68th Session Of The United Nations General Assembly Begins

Kenneth Pollack outlines it in a must-read. How far the US should be willing to go:

Rouhani may ultimately need more than the removal of the multilateral sanctions. He may need the U.S. to pledge, as we did to Cuba after the 1962 Missile Crisis, that we will not invade or otherwise try to overthrow the Iranian regime. He may need a commitment from the international community to help Iran develop its nuclear energy sector, which can be done by providing lightwater reactors that would not significantly bolster Iran’s ability to build nuclear weapons. He may also need economic support from international financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. He might even want to try to bring Iran into the World Trade Organization, although that seems unlikely given Khamenei’s insistence that the WTO is a subversive organization whose requirements would undermine the Islamic regime. The United States and our allies ought to be ready and willing to agree to any or all.

Amen. But the resistance from the Greater Israel lobby will be intense, as will opposition from Christianists and the 20th Century faction in the GOP, like McCain and Butters. Hence the president’s remark in his UN speech right now about how “the roadblocks may prove to be too great.” But Obama needs to drop some of his caution and defensiveness on this – and embrace the “Yes We Can” of his 2008 campaign. Those of us who supported him back then in the wake of neoconservative catastrophe dreamed of a moment like this one. He must not let it pass.

How Juan Cole understands Iran’s nuclear program:

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, has confirmed that Iran has turned 40% of its stock of high-grade LEU into fuel rods for the medical reactor. Once made into fuel rods, the material cannot be weaponized. So Iran only has 140 kilograms left of the 19.75% enriched uranium left. That isn’t enough for a bomb even if Iran knew how to make one and had the facilities to do so, which it doesn’t. Salehi says that Tehran intends to turn the rest of the stock into fuel rods, as well. Iran has in fact been feeding these fuel rods into the medical reactor and not stockpiling the high grade LEU, which is how you would expect them to act if they were in fact only interested in fuel, not bombs. Long time readers know that I have held since the middle of the last decade that Iran does not want an actual bomb, but rather only wants a breakout capacity like that of Japan– the ability to construct a bomb in short order if they faced an imminent existential threat. Such a breakout capacity would be almost impossible to forestall, since it mainly depends on know-how, which is widespread. But if Iran and give solid evidence that it has no active weapons program, that might be enough for a deal.

(Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the U.N. General Assembly on September 24, 2013 in New York City. By John Moore/Getty.)