Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Policy Briefing on Iran

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has just published a new policy brief by George Perkovich, Vice President for Studies and Director of the Nonproliferation Program, entitled, "Iran Says 'No' - Now What?" Perkovich argues that the cost of defiance of United Nations Security Council demands for Iran to halt enrichment activities should be greater, but the benefits of cooperation should also be greater. Perkovich offers a three-step approach for the next U.S. president:

• Give Iran one last, time-limited chance to negotiate suspension of its fuel-cycle-related activities. The European Union, Russia, China, and the United States have consistently increased offers of incentives to Iran without signs that Iran is willing to negotiate at all. Interlocutors should set a date to stop bidding unless Iran clarifies that there are conditions under which it would suspend.

• If Iran rejects the opportunity, break off negotiations and focus on developing a consensus to maintain international sanctions as long as Iran remains in violation of Security Council and IAEA resolutions. Rather than defending a redline Iran already crossed, the United States should build resolve within the UN Security Council and among allies for continued sanctions and robust consequences should evidence emerge of new Iranian weaponization activities.

• Finally, clarify the international redline. Even if Iran is able to weather sanctions, it may be persuaded to accept stringent safeguards and verifications inspections to prevent weaponization. Iran insists it has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, but the international community could define its redline for Iran as weaponization, further violation of nonproliferation obligations, or withdrawal from the NPT. The United States and the Security Council should insist on an understanding that the use of military force would be authorized should evidence of ongoing weaponization activities emerge. However, military force must be limited to enforcement of nonproliferation obligations and not encompass a wider campaign to weaken or destroy the Iranian government.

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