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Monday, November 23, 2009

A negotiated deal with Iran?

At Harvard's Belfer Center, Matthew Bunn argues in favor of a negotiated deal on Iran's nuclear program.
Outline of a Limited Compromise

Here is one example of what a compromise with Iran could look like:
  • The P5+1 agrees to allow some operational centrifuges in Iran.
  • Iran agrees to limit enrichment to 2-8 centrifuge cascades (other centrifuges in place, but not operating).
  • All centrifuge operations, R&D, manufacture (also other sensitive nuclear operations) are shifted to international ownership with a 24/7 international staff.
  • Iran agrees to the Additional Protocol and broad transparency measures.
  • The P5+1 implements an incentives package (trade, nuclear assistance, etc.).
  • Bilateral and multilateral dialogues are established to address other issues over time—including recognition and an end to sanctions if these other issues are successfully addressed.
  • The United States pledges not to attack Iran and not to attempt to overthrow the regime as long as (a) Iran complies with its nuclear obligations, (b) Iran does not commit or sponsor aggression or terrorist attacks against others.
The Compliance Problem

One of the key realities negotiators must face is that Iran has violated past agreements and may violate a new one. The United States should work with the rest of the P5+1 to ensure that there is real agreement that if Iran agrees to a pact with all of the P5+1, and then violates it, they will jointly support severe sanctions in response. Such an agreement should be as specific as practicable to minimize the chances of a dispute over whether Iran is complying. In the event of noncompliance, the U.S. and others should be prepared for rapid action.
This is an academic's fantasy. It assumes that Iran wants to compromise and would be willing to compromise to avoid sanctions and possible military action. But Iran doesn't want to compromise. It doesn't believe that real sanctions will ever really happen (nor apparently does Bunn), nor is there any credible military threat against Iran other than the threat emanating from Israel, which appears unlikely to be able to do more than delay Iran's eventual accession to the nuclear club.

When and if there is a credible threat of real biting sanctions against Iran, backed up by a credible military threat, there might be room for a compromise with Iran (although even then I doubt that there will be any compromise, because the Iranian regime is apocalyptic and not rational). But at the moment, there is no credible threat of sanctions and no credible threat of any military action other than by Israel. Iran isn't going to consider compromising with anyone under these circumstances.

What could go wrong?


At 2:45 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Iran is saying "no" to the Great Satan. Obama doesn't appear to consider Iran's implacable enmity towards America a reason to get tough with its regime. Since Obama can't and won't walk away from "engagement," the mullahs have no reason to accept a negotiated deal. They will get what they want anyway since the world has resigned itself to the prospect of a nuclear Iran.

Only Israel can stop it.


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