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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Iran solution?

What would the Bush administration do if, in the next few months, Europe announces that Iran has agreed to a comprehensive nonproliferation accord, with intrusive IAEA inspections?

Imagine Tony Blair, communicating this message on American television: peace is at hand.

Is this scenario farfetched?


But the Europeans have leverage that the US doesn't have, the threat to withdraw longstanding trade and diplomatic recognition, and they obviously prefer diplomacy to war.

I don't think Iran will agree to the deal without something like North Korea got from Clinton or Cuba got from JFK: a promise not to attack (at least not with nuclear weapons).

Since the US isn't participating directly in the diplomacy, the Europeans cannot make this offer to Iran. Indeed, one could argue that US refusal to join in those talks virtually assures their failure. After all, it is the US that claims to fear Iran one day giving its nukes to terrorists.

If Iran and Europe came to a deal even without the US, I doubt the Bush administration will accept it. After all, recall the White House document from January 2003: What Does Disarmament Look Like? The document reviews disarmament in South Africa, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, which were truly remarkable cases.

Then-National Security Advisor Condi Rice wrote an op-ed for the NY Times, January 23, 2003, explaining the intrusive measures these states accepted:
There is no mystery to voluntary disarmament. Countries that decide to disarm lead inspectors to weapons and production sites, answer questions before they are asked, state publicly and often the intention to disarm and urge their citizens to cooperate. The world knows from examples set by South Africa, Ukraine and Kazakhstan what it looks like when a government decides that it will cooperatively give up its weapons of mass destruction. The critical common elements of these efforts include a high-level political commitment to disarm, national initiatives to dismantle weapons programs, and full cooperation and transparency.
Anyone believe Iran will go for that?

Anyone believe the Bush administration will settle for less?

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