Though there appears to be an effort within the administration to push for a nuclear weapons free Middle East, a move which could have enormous ramifications in the long term, many seem to be looking beyond that and, for at least one White House official, the NPT conference is “all about Iran.”
Yet Iran isn’t even on the official agenda, and the NPT’s demand for unanimity on changes is certain to keep any major anti-Iran move from moving forward, particularly with Iranian President Ahmadinejad attending the meeting.
Rather the conference is shaping up to be a diplomatic showdown, with Ahmadinejad delivering a morning speech and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following close behind in the afternoon. It will be about playing to the crowd, and currying favor for the UN Security Council efforts to come.
At the same time, while certain to be full of action and accusation, the speeches are unlikely to change anyone’s mind, as the US claims that Iran has a nuclear weapons program have always been more a political policy than anything based in fact. For those who have joined the US in the push for sanctions, nothing Ahmadinejad says could change their mind. For those who have rejected the US accusations, having Secretary of State Clinton repeat them probably won’t make any difference either.