Treasury vs. Ahmadinejad

Stuart Levey, the not-often-in-the-news under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence and the Treasury Department’s lead on Iran sanctions, said yesterday that the financial measures seem to be working. The sanctions “can and will create leverage for our diplomacy,” and they are “dramatically isolating Iran financially and commercially,” according to Levey. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in New York for the UN General Assembly meeting (where he gave a speech about the death of capitalism at the Millennium Development Goals summit), begged to differ. The leader said that if sanctions were actually effective, “I should not be sitting here right now.” The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said today that Tehran was “in principle . . . ready for” talks on its nuclear program with the UN Security Council + Germany.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is worried about a planned Russian cruise-missile sale to Syria. Gates told his Israeli counterpart as much in a closed-door meeting on Monday, saying that the sale could “destabilize” the region.

And Hillary Clinton’s hair is back in the news. Apparently it wasn’t just an August-news-doldrums kind of story. Never mind that she had a long sitdown with China’s foreign minister, focusing in large part on tense currency issues.