Wednesday, August 10, 2005

# Posted 12:43 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TEHERAN'S ISLAMIC BOMB: Last week, British, French and German negotiators offered Iran a very generous compensation package in exchange for its commitment to abandon its uranium enrichment program. But the Iranians said no. The WaPo observes:
There is no further room for obfuscation, and no further reason to give Iranians the benefit of the doubt: The real aim of the Iranian nuclear program is nuclear weapons, not electric power.
At the same time, the editors of the Post argue that
The experience of letting the Europeans do it their way, offering trade and economic incentives before bringing in sanctions or making any military threats, has been enormously important...Now, any steps taken to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons will have international credibility.
Finally, the Post adds a caveat
What remains to be seen is whether the Europeans will come through, as they have promised they would, with a tough-minded push for sanctions.
Consider, for a moment, the tension between those last two statements. What if the Europeans don't follow through? If, at that point, we strike out on our own, will we no longer have "international credibility"? In other words, is the price of credibility that we always follow the European lead?

In the case of Iran, I don't mind the current experiment in multilateralism. Since the current National Intelligence Estimate on Iran argues with considerable authority that Teheran is between five and ten years away from having a bomb, we have enough time to test the Europeans' mettle as negotiators.

But how often do belligerent dictatorships give up their hopes of building nuclear weapons? The approximate answer to that question is never. Although promoting democracy in Iran is a long shot, I'm guessing that pushing the fundamentalists out of power is only the way to moderate Iranian behavior.
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