Just before Iran and the international community begin talks on Iran's nuclear program, Israel is sending out messages of measured and cautions optimism. Israeli official are praising the proposed sanctions against Iran to journalists, explaining that a stiff cost could prompt the Iranians to rethink their actions, especially in light of the domestic troubles the regime of ayatollahs has faced over the past few months.
The New York Times, meanwhile, reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is lobbying U.S lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to impose "crippling sanctions" on Iran.
This constitutes a certain change in the atmosphere surrounding Israel's approach to the issue. Until a few weeks ago, Israeli officials expressed serious skepticism, bordering on cynicism, about American efforts to divert Iran from its gallop toward obtaining nuclear capability.
The official explanation for this stance is connected to the assertiveness that U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration are showing vis-a-vis Tehran, alongside the decision by the Obama administration to nix plans to deploy missile systems in Eastern Europe. That move is expected to help in getting Russia to hop on the sanctions wagon.
But there are other factors in the background. The dialogue is the penultimate exit stop before the scenario of a military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. The talks are expected to go on intermittently until December, when harsher sanctions are expected.
Israel, from its point of view, now needs to show the Obama administration and the international community that it is a team player, one that supports exhausting all non-military options. At some point in the future, there will come a time when it would make sense to once again threaten to attack Iran in order to pressure Tehran, but now is still the time for negotiations.
All the intensive goings-on concerning Iran must be understood against the backdrop of the opening of talks the day after Wednesday, on October 1.
This is the context for the exposure of the new enrichment facility at Qom, secretly built by the Iranians. And it's the context for Obama's stern statements and for Iran's defiance in holding a military maneuver that included launching long-range missiles capable of hitting Europe.
The most dramatic of these developments is the exposure of the Qom facility for uranium enrichment. This has enabled U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to state clearly that Iran is moving forward with its efforts to obtain a nuclear bomb.
The U.S. is now starting to show its cards in more ways than the exposure of the Qom facility, which attest to Tehran's true intentions. The New York Times reported that the U.S. is planning to halt foreign investments in Iran's oil and gas industries and introduce new restrictions on banks operating in Iran.
But even if the sanctions are approved, will they serve to dissuade a country that has persistently struggled to obtain nuclear weapons for 15 years, now that it is relatively close to achieving the ultimate goal?
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