Suspicion and patience ahead of Iran nuclear talks
Israel doubts that the diplomatic campaign will succeed. But it should not denigrate the massive diplomatic effort the Western countries are making.
It would be too much to expect that the third round of talks between Iran and the world powers beginning Monday in Moscow will produce a ground-breaking plan that will free the world from the Iranian nuclear threat.
The two parties - Iran and the six powers - come to the meeting after the two previous rounds, in Istanbul and Baghdad, created mainly an understanding that negotiations should continue, that the red lines of both sides are better known and that accord might emerge over some of the demands.
The sword of dramatic sanctions hangs over Iran, sanctions that, beginning next month, will prevent Tehran from exporting oil to most countries. The ban is expected to deal a mortal blow to Iran's economy and place it on the horns of an historic dilemma: Economic survival or a prestigious nuclear program.
Voices from Iran are conveying vague messages. Cautious optimism and willingness for flexibility on the one hand, and adamant insistence on its right to continue producing uranium on the other.
Western conditions, in contrast, are sharp, firm and especially, they have adopted Israel's demands. Iran must stop enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent; it must remove from the country the uranium it has already enriched, and it must close the enrichment facility in Fardo.
Meanwhile, all parties understand that the timetable limits the diplomatic dialogue's shelf life. The presidential elections in the United States, efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria and the economic crisis in Western Europe are shifting the military option against Iran to the back burner.
Iran might take good advantage of this period of time to advance its nuclear industry. But it is also a relatively short, essential extension, which calls for diplomatic muscle-flexing to force a non-military solution on Iran. Israel doubts that the diplomatic campaign will succeed. But it should not denigrate the massive diplomatic effort the Western countries are making, to which Russia and China are also party, to stop the Iranian nuclear program.
This effort reflects the international realization that the Iranian threat is real and that Israel's claims are just. It should be supported and hoped to succeed, especially when the military option carries no promise of a better outcome.