Constructive Compromise Ahead of Baghdad Talks

On the radar: Amano: Iran dealing coming soon; Compromise and buying time; HASC stuck in the Cold War; NATO’s missed opportunities; Senate passes Iran sanctions; What to look for at Baghdad; House rolls back nuclear labs oversight; Avoiding war; and Tell the Post where HASC can stick those missiles.

May 22, 2012 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke and Mary Kaszynski

IAEA-Iran deal - IAEA Director Amano says an agreement with Iran on an investigation into Iran’s possible past work on nuclear weapons-related research will be signed “quite soon.” The timing, facilities to be inspected, and other details are still unclear.

--While the talks in Baghdad are separate from these IAEA negotiations, “progress in one could affect the atmosphere at the other.” The New York Times reports.

Benefits of buying time - The talks with Iran in Baghdad could lead to a compromise - with limits on Iran’s enrichment program in exchange for U.S. acceptance of that program and a relaxation of pending sanctions. That might buy Iran some time, but it also buys time for the U.S. and prevents a disastrous war in the Middle East. Alireza Nader at Mideast Channel gives context to the negotiations and explains why time is on the United States’ side.

Cold War thinking - House Armed Services members ignored both fiscal constraints and strategic relevance when they blocked New START implementation and added millions of dollars for unnecessary nuclear weapons programs in the 2013 defense authorization act, write Robert Gard and Kingston Reif in AOL Defense.

--“We urge lawmakers to protect US national security by ensuring that US nuclear policy and spending is driven by strategic needs and affordability, not the inertia of partisan politics and a Cold War-era mindset,” the authors conclude.

Welcome to Early Warning - Subscribe to our morning email or follow us on twitter.

--Have a tip? Email Want to support this work? Click here.

Reviewing NATO’s review - NATO’s Deterrence and Defense Posture Review is “an indecisive document that dodges the main issues separating allies around nuclear deterrence,” write Daryl Kimball, Oliver Meier, and Paul Ingram at Arms Control Now. In their critique, they note the muddled formulation of alliance negative security assurances, dubious reciprocity linkages with Russia, and vague requirements for the last remnants of the U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe.

New sanctions - After a heated debate last week, the Senate reached a deal on new Iran sanctions, just in time for the Baghdad talks. The Senate version, which must still be reconciled with the House, states that the bill does not authorize military action against Iran, but also that U.S. policy includes a combination of sanctions, diplomacy and also military planning. From Politico.

Small steps - “What the United States should look to achieve at this meeting are small but important confidence building measures,” writes Terri Lodge in The Hill. Of course, there are still major obstacles in the way of the full resolution of this issue...but next week’s meeting represents a real opportunity for progress.”

Tweet - @rethink_media: "Amazing that a country without money can consider building a #missile shield against a threat that doesn’t exist"

Spend first, safety second - Nuclear weapons labs are known for health, safety, security, and financial problems. The House defense authorization bill makes the problems worse by reducing oversight of the labs. POGO’s Mia Steinle and Angela Canterbury have the story.

How to avoid a war with Iran - Both sides must come to Baghdad “willing to compromise and focused on a step-by-step approach that gives each side real gains, builds confidence, and allows more time for talks on the harder issues,” write Matthew Bunn and Abbas Maleki in Foreign Policy.

--“There may be a chance to build a virtuous cycle: Once the benefits begin to flow, it will likely be harder for those who would call for ripping up the deal and returning to confrontation to win the argument.”

Tweet - @Cirincione: Help the WashPost figure out where to put those interceptors that don't work and we don't need:

--Accident, Maryland is in the running. Really.