If you watch crime shows on television or read crime fiction, you’re no doubt familiar with the term “tune him up.” It’s defined at Urban Dictionary as: “A beat down especially when administered by the cops.” Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but what seems implied is that the victimizer-turned-victim is being “tenderized” to make him more amenable to questioning and admitting to his guilt (lack thereof notwithstanding).

At IPS News, Gareth Porter writes (emphasis added):

In a blog post in The National Interest, Paul Pillar, former national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, wrote that the “Western message to Tehran” seems to be, “(W)e might be willing to tolerate some sort of Iranian nuclear program, but only one consisting of facilities that would suffer significant damage if we or the Israelis later decide to bomb it.”

Greg Thielmann, senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, said in an interview with IPS, “There are Americans who believe it is important to keep all Iranian facilities at risk in case Tehran decided to build a nuclear weapon [but that] is more an interest of the Israelis than of the United States”.

The Iranian facility that Israeli is most interested in keeping at risk is Fordow, the underground uranium facility near the city of Qom. Porter again.

Reza Marashi, the former State Department specialist on Iran and now research director at the National Iranian-American Council, said … the Israelis who have “turned their inability to destroy Fordow into a major issue”.

But (emphasis added again) …

While the demand on Fordow clearly responds to a U.S. need to accommodate Israel, it is also in line with Obama administration efforts to intimidate Iran by emphasising that it has only a limited time “window” in which to solve the issue diplomatically [before Israel decides to] strike Iran’s nuclear facilities in the absence of progress toward an agreement guaranteeing Iran would not go nuclear.

In other words, the United States is letting Israel “tune up” Iran with threats in hopes that Iran will agree to the United States and the P5 +1’s points in negotiations. (In Istanbul on April 14, relations were cordial, lending cautious optimism to the next meeting in Baghadad on May 23.) Besides, Tehran, it’s for your own good because otherwise we’ll be unable to prevent our henchman, Israel, from unleashing the full force of its fury on you.

Allow us, now, to return to the assertions that we “might be willing to tolerate some sort of Iranian nuclear program, but only one consisting of facilities that would suffer significant damage if we or the Israelis later decide to bomb it” and “it is important to keep all Iranian facilities at risk in case Tehran decided to build a nuclear weapon.”

How, you may be asking yourself, can one expect a state to agree to purposely leave itself vulnerable? Odd as it sounds, it’s not unprecedented. Missile defense is infused with the same line of, if not magical, wishful thinking. It works like this: conventional thinking on nuclear strategy holds that missile defense upsets — “destabilizes” — the whole nuclear-deterrence apple cart. Russia, for example, is considered vulnerable to an initial nuclear strike by the United States, during which many of its nuclear weapons in land-based silos would be wiped out. Also, many of those launched at the United States would be destroyed while in the air by U.S. missile defense (in our dreams: our missile defense systems are years — decades even — from that kind of capability).

Anyway, the crux of this theory is that since Russia knows that under this arrangement it’s going to lose missiles both on the ground and in the air, it’s motivated to build more to compensate. In other words, the United States would be safer if it refrained from implementing missile defense and maintained a calculated vulnerability. (I’ve elaborated on this elsewhere.)

Israel wants Fordow less fortified against attack — to come complete, as it were, with a self-destruct button. Meanwhile, the United States is turning Fordow into a self-destruct bottom for the negotiations. At PBS Frontline Tehran Bureau, Muhammad Sahimi writes that in an interview, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

The way to confront this strategy of Iran’s [stalling and exploiting divisions among its adversaries] is to demand explicit conditions calling for ceasing all uranium enrichment, removal of all enrich[ed] uranium from the country, and its exchange for material which cannot be [used to] develop nuclear weapons, and agreement to give up the underground facility in Qom [the Fordow site].

But assuming that [this] accurately reflects the Obama administration’s goals and demands … they will be non-starters and will doom the negotiations before they even get under way.

Because …

Iran built the Fordow uranium enrichment site precisely to have a fallback facility if its other sites, such as those in Natanz, Isfahan, and Arak, are attacked and destroyed. The site is effectively indestructible at present.

In fact, though, it may be much adieu about nothing.

… even though the prowar factions in the United States and elsewhere still refer to it as a “secret site.” … most Western media reports fail to inform the public … that the site is also monitored and safeguarded by the IAEA. I cannot imagine any scenario under which Iran, and in particular the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the state’s most powerful organ, will agree to dismantle Fordow.

In other words, it’s as if by including the Fordow proviso, the United States and the P5+1 are intentionally sabotaging the negotiations.

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