Originally published 1/12/07:
This article makes perfect sense to me. How about you? Can you see past the rhetoric of the majority of US media and government officials… into what is really happening here?
“Here lies the crux of the Iranian nuclear dilemma. Threats to deny any country its inalienable rights, or the means to defend itself against nuclear neighbours, are always likely to fall on deaf ears. And to talk to Iranians in such terms is likely only to inflame their worst fears. If Iranians are to change their attitudes, America and its allies need to change theirs. They need to accept that Iran has as much right as any country to pursue a programme of civilian energy, and it cannot be blamed for pursuing nuclear weapons when it is surrounded by countries – Israel, Pakistan and the US – that have their own.
To dissuade the Iranians from pursuing either goal – nuclear energy or warheads – Washington would have to make massive concessions. It would need to fit the issue into a wider Middle East picture and find ways of making Iran feel less threatened. In return for cessation of uranium enrichment, or for more effective guarantees that it would not be used for a weapons programme, Washington could offer not only to lift all sanctions but also to drop calls for regime change and undertake not to meddle in Iran’s domestic affairs; pull back its military presence in the region; and pressure Israel into surrendering or scaling down its nuclear arsenal. Israel talks about its defence against annihilation, but it might be such wider consequences of an Iranian nuclear programme that it really fears.
Unfortunately, Bush looks a long way from even considering such moves. He has rejected the recommendations of last month’s Baker-Hamilton report, which called for dialogue with Tehran after 26 years of estrangement, and of congressmen who have called for a “grand bargain” to settle all the differences between Iran and the US.
By doing so, he has dramatically raised the stakes in the Middle East. In the coming months there is a real risk that Iran’s nuclear ambitions could spark conflicts that make Iraq and Afghanistan look like small fry indeed.”