The more time passes without the United Nations or an ad-hoc alliance taking serious action to try and deter Iran from going nuclear, the more Israel will feel that it will have to deal with this threat itself. That feeling must only have increased with Obama’s failure to mention Iran in his speech last night and the delay in rolling out the new administration’s Iran policy.
Dennis Ross was only formally announced as a special adviser to Hillary Clinton on ‘the Gulf and southwest Asia’ this week and with him working out of the State Department it is still unclear who is actually coordinating Iran policy or, indeed, what that policy is.
The Obama administration rightly wants to see if direct diplomacy can persuade Iran to give up its nuclear programme. I suspect that these talks will fail — if you were an Iranian policymaker what, short of a blockade or the threat of force, would make you abandon a programme that would shift the regional balance of power so dramatically in you favour? — but they should take place as force should only be used when all other options have been exhausted. But the diplomatic process must start now otherwise it will be too late. The Iranian nuclear problem will not wait until the West has dealt with its economic problems.