Iran watchers in Washington are paying attention this morning to.... the John Bolton UN ambassador nomination hearings taking place today in the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
Why is obvious. Because the sense here is that whoever becomes the next US ambassador to the UN will be spending much of their term trying to gather international support to isolate Iran at the UN; it is anticipated that the IAEA board of governors may finally be coming round to what's long been Bolton's contention: that the European-led negotiations on Iran's nuclear program are collapsing, and that Tehran should be referred to the UN Security Council as being in non compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty( NPT).
This would be the trigger for an international debate about what to do to discourage Iran's nuclear aspirations. And today's Bolton hearing will determine who will be representing Washington in that debate. Who will be representing Iran in that debate?
There's surprisingly little sense in Washington that I've detected that the upcoming Iranian presidential elections matter much at all in that regard, as the sense here is that the ruling clique of hardliners in Tehran rules independent of what's perceived as almost a symbolic presidency, e.g. one that doesn't control Iran's national security decisionmaking. So we'll all stay tuned.