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On Iran and Nukes, Talk Has Been Costly

U.S. News and World Report

Saturday, March 9, 2013

For nearly a decade, the United States has tried to use both economic pressure and diplomatic engagement to persuade Iran to halt its drive to nuclear weapons-making capability. Yet, while Iran’s ongoing refusal to honor its international obligations for nuclear transparency arguably calls for the imposition of harsher sanctions, the Obama administration appears to be doubling down on diplomacy. Here, the danger is that we’ll be tempted to give up our end to obtain our means.

During the most recent round of multilateral negotiations with Iran, world powers—the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, and Germany, known collectively as the “P5+1″—again gave ground, reversing their previous insistence that Iran shut down Fordow, a uranium enrichment facility built deep within a mountain near the city of Qom. While the move is intended to coax a more cooperative negotiating posture from the Islamic Republic, Tehran is more likely to simply pocket this preemptive concession, and insist it be used as new baseline for any further negotiations…

Tehran has made key advancements in the technical aspects of its nuclear program while scrupulously staying beneath the “red line” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew during his speech at this year’s United Nations General Assembly. This fits with what the United States believes to be Iran’s strategy for achieving nuclear weapons-making capability: developing the components of the program (explosive material, warhead design, and the delivery system) contemporaneously, and then sprinting for weaponization at the supreme leader’s command. By diverting a portion of its high enriched uranium stockpile into reactor fuel and simultaneously expanding its capacity to rapidly produce more, “Iran might be delaying the day when it is ready to make the dash to a nuclear weapon, but is ensuring that the dash will be as short as possible,” in the words of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Michael Makovsky and Blaise Misztal.

2013-03-09 00:00:00
U.S. News and World Report