Details on an agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear program appear to be forthcoming while the Obama Administration wants a deal in place as soon as possible. Establishing a dialog on the subject and halting any progress on a nuclear weapon are important steps, but a treaty is only useful so long as it addresses the interests of the relevant parties. Due to our global interests, this includes the US and the rest of the West; however, countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel have even more immediate interests when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Speed only guarantees political credit is given to those who started negotiations, yet a nuclear deal must focus on minimizing the future potential of Iran building a nuclear weapon. The most apparent means of accomplishing this goal would be for Iran to give up its ability to enrich nuclear material.
With the Obama Administration struggling to bypass domestic gridlock in order to accomplish something and the Middle East in a period of chaotic flux, it would be nice to get the nuclear Iran issue out of the way. Doing so might help prevent even greater political instability. That said, a superficial deal with Iran will do nothing to stabilize the region. It is also important to remember there is a revolutionary movement inside Iran that was brutally suppressed by the Iranian government just before the Arab Spring began. As such, the US must tread softly. Relieving political and economic pressure on the Iranian government is equivalent to empowering the Iranian government.
Fitting this latest development into the overall dialog of recent US engagement in the Middle East, it seems America is simply looking out for its interests as was perceived when the US agreed to ignore the Syrian People’s most pressing needs in favor of destroying Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles, i.e. we failed to take action against Assad’s military in order to address the International Community’s concerns. This is a problem, because America needs to show the Peoples of the Middle East that the United States is a legitimate authority looking to build partnerships capable of serving our interests and their interests. As such, the US needs to get a really good deal or walk away, because any deal with come with a hefty price in terms of PR.
This does not mean the United States must take an all or nothing approach. It means the interest of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon must eventually be served by guaranteeing Iran cannot build a nuclear weapon in the future. It also means the US should seek concessions that would allow opposition groups to operate more freely in Iran. Iran needs to reform; otherwise, a nuclear deal that can be undone in a few months or less will be worthless. Because Iran has bluntly refused to dismantle its ability to enrich, the best possible deal at this time is likely one that keeps a dialog open between the West and Iran while halting Iran’s progress on its nuclear program. Consequently, easing sanctions at this time does not make sense, thus this opening deal should focus on alternative solutions, trust building objectives, and securing ongoing talks.
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