"It is a win-win situation for both to some extent," Vatanka said in an interview with IRNA. "Time was essential for each to follow their own distinctive agenda with different goals."
He said that the US "really needed time to prove their case" because of the lack of evidence, while for Iran, it "takes the pressure off for now."
"The Americans were fully aware of where they were going to stand. The Chinese, and particularly the Russians, had been saying for months that to solve the nuclear issue on Iran you don't need to take it to the Security Council," the security analyst said.
He said that the dilemma for the US was that it "had to prove Iran is up to no good and clearly the issue of imposing sanctions was not going to happen."
"It was not taken too serious so the multilateral forum is where the Americans are standing in seeking more time to prove to the Russians, French and Germans what would happen in the Middle East if Iran went nuclear," Vatanka said.
He said that the problem was that the "the clear-cut, very decisive and undisputed evidence is missing." This, he suggested, was due to the "weakness" of US intelligence.
"Given what happened in Iraq, it was a stinker in terms of intelligence. It proved to be a total failure and the US cannot afford to do the same thing again," the Iran editor told IRNA.
He suggested that there were even conflicting opinions on whether the US had to depend upon claims made against Iran by the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MKO) terrorist groups or if Washington was effectively using the MKO as a mouthpiece.
With regard to the possibility of the US attacking Iran or even carrying out limited strikes using Israel as a proxy, Vatanka said limited intelligence was having an effect on the "big debate in Washington about the cost and benefit analysis."
"If you have limited intelligence you can be sure the Iranians are going to take the ball from you by mobilizing resources and try to get back at the US, particularly in the region, like in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.
The analyst ruled out an "Iraqi-style invasion of Iran because of the cost."
He said that the Americans "simply do not have the troops and are looking at what Iran could do to them in retaliation."
The potential targets were also unclear on whether it would be simply sites reported or the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Because of a lack of intelligence, the US "don't know if it will be enough to kill the nuclear program," he said.
Vatanka suggested that the possibility of Iran having a nuclear card was so important for the US, saying it would "shift the balance of power so much that it would seriously undermine a lot of America's efforts in the region."
"If the Americans, who are talking about a greater Middle East peace effort are seriously talking about it, they cannot allow a country the size of Iran with its resources to poke them in the eye whenever they choose," he said.
Jane's editor believed that the US needed to deal with Iran, but said that it "really has to try the softer approach as the harder approach has not worked."
"If you look at it logically, I think this current policy of not dealing with one another is not working," he said, suggesting that the US choice could be to deal with Iran like North Korea, which had not worked very well, or with Libya.
The Iran editor also pointed to the way the US accepted Pakistan going nuclear and "suddenly it became one of its closest allies in the region."
"If you can reach some kind of understanding with Iran, maybe behind the curtain, that it has gone nuclear or was so close it cannot be stopped, you could accept it as a Cold War-style deterrence, like Pakistan," he suggested.
Vatanka pointed out that Iran had not been an aggressor and had not invaded any other country for over 300 years.
"Iran is no Saddam Hussein, who attacked neighbors every second day," he said.
If the US could get "reassurance from the Iranians they will behave themselves" a compromise could be reached to allow it to be nuclear like Pakistan, he said.
But for this to happen, the editor said that Iran would "have to tone down its rhetoric."
He said "it would be difficult for Iran, given its history, the size of the country and its natural leadership in the Middle East to have to bite the bullet."
For the US to reach some compromise, he referred to US President George W. Bush having nothing to lose in his second and final term in office.
"For the Republicans to have some kind of rapprochement with Iran, the way they did with Libya, would be a huge issue and certainly help them in Iraq and Afghanistan," Vatanka said.
He warned that it would take a "whole shift of thinking in the way the two countries stand" but believed that the US and Iran "to a large extent have a lot to gain by cooperating," and mentioned the need to keep Iraq together as a stable country as well as Afghanistan.
A possible opportunity to move towards some kind of rapprochement could come with next year's elections in Iran, the editor suggested.
... Payvand News - 12/4/04 ... --