The NPT review conference only occurs once every five years. This is Ahmadinejad’s chance. Will he blow it?
When Ahmadinejad arrives at the U.N. for May’s month-long NPT review conference, will he come with hubris and defiance or a skillful diplomatic effort to portray Iran as part of a moderate, reasoned global movement to create a nuclear-free Mideast?
Brasilia and Ankara are positively pleading with Tehran to give them something to justify a lowering of tensions, and that would probably please Moscow and Beijing as well. Even Cairo is now at least temporarily on Tehran’s side on this issue (perhaps fearing that more one-sided Western pressure will only serve to make Iranian acquisition of nuclear arms all the more likely).
Hypothesis: If Ahmadinejad takes a moderate pose and offers concessions, he will win big.
Supporting argument: Iran has pushed in-your-face confrontation pretty far; the elite has got to realize that Tehran is playing a very dangerous game…mostly to benefit Ahmadinejad’s career. Now Tehran has a marvelous opportunity to look good in a very high-profile context and right in Obama’s back yard. Countries are lining up to offer Iran support if only it will make some gesture to give them justification. A government would have to be truly inept to miss this chance. Ahmadinejad should thank Erdogan and Lula for their courage, thank Moscow and Beijing for their support, welcome “partnership” with Cairo to make the Mideast a safer place, and put something on the table that will get the attention of the IAEA.
Negating argument: Whatever Iran does will make absolutely no difference. The U.S. will continue bowing to the Israeli right, which pursues war fever for many reasons, only one of which is obsession with preventing any other country from defying Israel. Obama feels the need to play nice with conservatives on this emotional issue to protect his freedom to do liberal things on the medical and financial fronts. He is by nature not confrontational and will never take a stand on something this risky.