there’s no doubt that diplomatic outreach to Iran on the nuclear question suffers tremendously if Iran rejects the Vienna deal. Desired strategies have to bow to emergent realities, in the final analysis, and Iran just doesn’t appear like it will accept an eminently reasonable deal that would buy time for a diplomatic thaw. If this is indeed Iran’s formal response to Vienna, than sanctions look more likely now, and, frankly, appropriate.
I spoke with an eminent American national security hand (whom I cannot identify) who laid out a truly undesirable situation in which the United States tries to impose “crippling sanctions,” as Secretary of State calls it, but fails at the Security Council. At that point, the security expert says, the military option (which includes letting Israel fly over Iraq unperturbed) looks all the more palatable. This is a problem because 1) a strike won’t much affect the pace of Iranian enrichment. 2) Iran will retaliate against American interests in Afghanistan, Iraq, and possibly elsewhere. Something to think about at least.
Meanwhile, I wanted to flag David Shorr’s takedown of Robert Kagan’s attempt to mix talk of “regime change” into diplomacy surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. I’d just add that, um, the main opposition candidate is also on the record against the IAEA deal that Ahmedinejad effectively rejected today.