And yet, it appears, superficially at least, that it is the U.S. that is bending to the demands of Iran. The most recent example comes via official Iranian-state media, which reported that U.S. negotiators have agreed to allow Iran to run 6,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges, which is up from the previous maximum American concession, 4,000, proposed just two weeks ago.
Iranian negotiators could take such premature concessions as signs that more concessions are coming, in exchange for… not very much. Certainly, no broad shift in Iranian strategic thinking seems likely. As Michael Singh, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy recently observed, “(T)he changes in U.S.-Iran relations have been decidedly one-sided. The central aim of American policy toward Iran in recent years had been to persuade Tehran to make a strategic shift: away from a strategy of projecting power and deterring adversaries through asymmetric means, and toward one that would adhere to international norms and reinforce regional peace and stability. Détente—and, for that matter, a nuclear accord—resulting from such a shift would be welcome by not only the U.S. but also its allies in the region and beyond. Iran does not, however, appear to have undergone any such change.”
The most potentially damaging aspect of this latest Obama letter is that U.S. allies in the Middle East weren’t informed of its existence. Given the dysfunctional nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship right now, I doubt that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was particularly surprised to be surprised in this manner.