AHMADINEJAD AND THE NUKES….The LA Times ran a long story today about Israel’s “unusually open campaign” over the past few months to convince global leaders that Iran’s nuclear program is a threat to the world. “What is new is Israel’s abandonment of quiet diplomacy to rally others to its side. Until a few months ago, Israeli leaders worried that high-profile lobbying would backfire and provoke accusations that they were trying to drag the United States and its allies into a war.”

OK. But then there’s this:

Vice Premier Shimon Peres told students in Qatar last week that Israel’s problem was with Ahmadinejad, not the Iranian people, and it did not “intend to use military action.”

If Ahmadinejad were to fall, “someone else would come to power, someone less hostile, and the question of whether they have nuclear capability will be less important,” said Uri Lubrani, a former Israeli ambassador to Iran who advises the Defense Ministry and opposes military action.

That, however, appears to be a minority view in the government and defense establishment. Other officials and analysts argue that voluntary sanctions are unlikely to win full support from European countries and in any case would be undermined by Russia, China and India. They say time is too short and the stakes too high to bet solely on a change in government.

Genuine question here: what’s the deal with the obsession over Ahmadinejad? He’s certainly a loathsome guy, but my understanding is that he has no control at all over Iran’s nuclear program and its possible future use. He can talk all he wants, but it’s just not part of his remit. Foreign policy in general, and control of nuclear weapons in particular, is solely under the control of the Guardians Council.

But the more I read about this the foggier it gets, and I haven’t been able to figure out if this is really true. There may be subtleties underneath the public chain of command that aren’t obvious — though if there are, they seem to suggest that Ahmadinejad has even less power over the nuclear program than it seems on the surface.

Anybody have some good references on this? I don’t really have anything against Ahmadinejad bashing, but on the nuclear front he’s a nobody. So who cares whether or not there’s a change in government?

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