A True Test of Engagement

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Just one day after Iran announced a deal with Turkey and Brazil to export some of its nuclear fuel for enrichment, Secretary of State Clinton said Tuesday the P5+1 had reached a tentative deal for multilateral U.N. sanctions. Our colleague Massimo Calabresi parses:

Unmoved by the latest Iranian offer, the Administration is pressing ahead with the new sanctions resolution, and it says that Russia and China remain on board. If, despite Tehran’s gambit, President Obama can still get all five permanent members of the Security Council (the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France) and four of the rotating members to vote for new sanctions, that would not only be a win for his effort to tighten the screws on Iran, but also a validation of Obama’s strategy of outreach to rivals and the international community. If the tactical shift by Iran fails to divide the consensus Washington has achieved through months of laborious diplomacy, it will prove that Obama can leverage engagement not just to build an international coalition, but to build a resilient one.

The downside, of course, is stark. If any of the permanent five break ranks — if China even simply abstains rather than uses its veto — or if the U.S. can’t rustle up the nine votes needed to pass the resolution, it will suggest that Obama’s months of outreach has failed to gain him any significant international advantage in dealing with rogue actors. Iran would then gain not just the fuel for its research reactor while hanging on to a stockpile of enriched uranium; it will also have struck a body blow at President Obama’s attempt to rebuild the international security cooperation that collapsed over the Iraq war.

Read the whole thing.