The subject matter at the G20 is undeniably important. But now that the immediate fear that the world economy is going to implode has died down, discussions about financial regulation and global economic imbalances are once again rather dry and technocratic. This morning, however, some real drama intruded on the economic discussions – with the revelations about Iran’s second and secret nuclear plant. Obama, Brown and Sarkozy appeared before the cameras looking stern and threatening tough action, unless Iran changes course.
In an odd way, the new revelations were both feared and hoped for. On the one hand, they confirm the fears of the West that there is much more to the Iranian nuclear programme than had been declared. On the other hand – since that was always thought to be the case, anyway - it is useful to have confirmation, to brandish in the face of the reluctant Chinese and Russians, who must agree to any further sanctions.
So what happens next? The first stage is the meeting of the Perm 5+1 (the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) with Iran next week. This is going to be a bit awkward for Iran – and they might agree to new international inspections. But I would be very surprised if they made any serious concessions. A regime that is content to shoot demonstrators down in the streets, can brush off a little diplomatic embarrassment. Read more