Make Tehran a Serious Offer

February 20, 2013 Topic: WMDSecurity Region: Iran

Make Tehran a Serious Offer

If stopping an Iranian bomb is worth going to war, it's certainly worth making concessions.

 . . . the British Empire was hardly prone to concede to an Iranian government reclaiming its oil fields, and was all along plotting the overthrow of the impudent premier. Whitehall viewed Mossadegh’s nationalisation as not just an infringement of its prerogatives in Iran but as an act that could potentially endanger all of its considerable overseas assets. Mossadegh had to go, and diplomacy was a mere ruse to achieve that end. In this narrative, London never really sought an accommodation with Tehran, but was merely going through the ritual of diplomacy to ensure a broadbased coalition against an embattled Mossadegh.

It appears, again—that just as in the early 1950s—the P5+1 is now “merely going through the ritual of diplomacy to ensure a broadbased coalition against an embattled” Iranian regime.

There appears to be a striking cognitive dissonance between the pronouncements of the alleged mortal threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program and the foot-dragging approach to doing something about it in negotiations.

A sign of successful negotiations is the no one gets everything they wanted—concessions have to be made by both sides. If the P5+1 leaders really are as worried about Iran’s nuclear program as they claim to be, then they need to show it by making serious concessions. If they don't want to give up a few sanctions to obtain Iranian cooperation on this important issue, the inexorable conclusion is that they are not truly concerned about Iran stockpiling more 20 percent uranium, and that the sanctions are probably in place in some vain hope of regime change via collective punishment.

The P5+1 can show their true concern over Iran's nuclear program on February 26 in Kazakhstan by being serious and putting some serious sanctions relief on the table to rein it in.

Yousaf Butt, a nuclear physicist, is professor and scientist-in-residence at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. The views expressed are his own.