Instead of increasing the threat of war, the authors suggest that the Obama administration imitate a series of steps that would persuade Iran that in exchange for pledging not to build a nuclear weapon (and agreeing to inspections to confirm the pledge is being carried out), the U.S. and the other negotiating partners would progressively lift sanctions and would also agree to Iran’s development of a peaceful nuclear program. They urge a meeting in the next months between Obama and Rouhani—perhaps during the fall United Nations session.
The authors point out that the United States stands much to gain from an improved relationship with Iran—not just in ending the threat of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, but also in gaining Iran’s cooperation in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan (where Iran initially worked closely with the United States against the Taliban and al Qaeda) and in Iraq and Syria, where a regional Sunni-Shia war looms on the horizon.
Is Rouhani someone “we can do business with” as Maggie once described Gorbachev? That would drive the neocons insane. Gary Sick thinks Bibi needs “a new set of talking points”:
Almost every year since the early 1990s, senior political figures, intelligence specialists and respected commentators have assured us that Iran would surely have a nuclear weapon in three to five years, sometimes less, unless Iran were forced to stop its mad dash for the bomb. It is not hard to understand the logic of this assertion. Israel itself managed to develop a nuclear weapons capability in absolute secrecy in only a few years. It was not alone. South Africa, India, even poor Pakistan with virtually no heavy industrial base, managed to develop nuclear weapons in secret within a decade or so of the decision to launch a determined program. By most accounts, Iran decided to restart its nuclear program — started under the shah and interrupted by the Iranian revolution — in the mid-1980s, nearly 30 years ago.