Originally published on the Tough Dove Israel blog, 4/6/08, excerpted from How to Talk to a Hawk, by Gidon D. Remba, Executive Director, The Jewish Alliance for Change
A new report by a group of former American diplomats and regional experts who have been meeting behind the scenes with a group of Iranian academics and policy advisers suggests that the Iranian leadership is open to direct US-Iran talks over a novel solution to the nuclear impasse: Western governments would jointly manage, operate and closely supervise all of Iran’s nuclear activities on Iranian soil. Under this proposal, “Iran would be prohibited from producing either highly enriched uranium or reprocessed plutonium,” thereby preventing it from producing the essential ingredients for constructing a nuclear weapon.
Under such tight international supervision, even a secret attempt on Iran’s part to manufacture weapons-grade nuclear materials “would carry the risk of discovery by the international management team and the staff at the facility; the high probability of getting caught will likely deter Iran from trying to do so in the first place.” Iran would be permitted to produce “only uranium enriched to low levels that could be used in nuclear power plants.” And it would have to agree to fully implement the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, “which requires member nations to make their nuclear facilities subject to snap inspections, environmental sampling, and more comprehensive reporting requirements,” as Iran has already offered to do.
While this option is not ideal—only a complete cessation of nuclear enrichment by Iran would be, an option that is decidedly not in the cards—it is the best of the realistic options which may be available to us and the one most likely to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Moreover, it is far better than the worst option, which is the one we are most likely to end up with if we continue down the paths advocated by Bush and McCain: “a purely national [nuclear enrichment] program on Iranian soil, one aimed at producing nuclear weapons” either without international safeguards or with insufficient monitoring.
As the U.S. diplomats warn, "Outsourcing US diplomacy to others has not worked and is even less likely to work in the future … The US is the only nation that can take on [the task of direct engagement with Iran on the nuclear issue] and achieve the breakthroughs that will be necessary… The reward may be a more stable and peaceful Middle East.”
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