A U.S. attack on Iran? Not coming soon
Tehran has softened its tone, but tough decisions await the next US president.
A preemptive US attack on Iranian nuclear facilities may be unlikely anytime soon. But that does not mean it is off the table forever. And Israel – worried about the possibility of a hostile, nuclear-armed regional neighbor – may have its own timetable for possible military action.Skip to next paragraph
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That is the bottom-line conclusion of a number of US-based experts who have talked in recent days about the possibility of any preemptive strike on Iran intended to halt its uranium enrichment program.
US-Iranian relations may well be one of the two or three toughest foreign-policy problems the next American president will have to handle. That leader will have to decide, for example, whether the issue is important enough that the US should make further concessions to Russia to ensure greater cooperation in the struggle to control possible Iranian nuclear proliferation.
And the next president will have to decide on an overall tone with which to approach an Iranian government that of late has sounded more temperate.
"Right now, the Iranians feel they have the upper hand. They're just getting smarter about their rhetoric," says George Perkovich, a nuclear-proliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
Since the end of June, Iran has been talking in a less bellicose manner about its nuclear program.
The Iranian letter, which EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana said he received late on July 4, was a response to an international offer of incentives meant to persuade Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program.
The contents of Iran's letter have not been made public. Mr. Solana called it difficult and complicated, and he said it did not make him "completely optimistic."
Solana said it was "not impossible" that he would soon meet with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, but would not confirm any dates.
"I hope that we can continue the dialogue [with Iran] in the coming weeks, before the end of the month if possible, but I don't want to give you completely optimistic impressions," the EU foreign-policy chief said.