Monday, April 13, 2009

Oped on Iran's nuclear program

Roger Cohen has been writing excellent articles on Iran (for example, here). This time he addresses the thorny issue of the nuclear program of Iran. Setting aside the inherent idiocy of having nuclear weapons, I really find it problematic when nuclear states talk about enforcing the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). Plus, in the case of Iran, the enrichment that it has done so far is actually legal (but it is also clear that it also has intentions toward building a bomb). But I'm glad that Obama at least brought up the possibility of a nuclear weapon free world and it was brought up in Cohen's article:

I think it’s almost certainly too late to stop Iran achieving virtual nuclear power status — something like Brazil’s or Japan’s mastery of the know-how without a weapon. Iran’s advances of the past eight years cannot be undone. What can be transformed is the context Iran operates in; that in turn will determine how “virtual” Iran remains.

One context changer was Obama’s call for a nuclear-free world: it’s hard to argue for nonproliferation without tackling disarmament. “You can’t have nine countries telling the likes of Iran nuclear weapons are dangerous for you, but we need to go on refining our arsenals,” said ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 and ends his term later this year. “It’s a different world.”
And then he provides a normalization scenario - that is quite reasonable:

Iran ceases military support for Hamas and Hezbollah; adopts a “Malaysian” approach to Israel (nonrecognition and noninterference); agrees to work for stability in Iraq and Afghanistan; accepts intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency verification of a limited nuclear program for peaceful ends only; promises to fight Qaeda terrorism; commits to improving its human rights record.

The United States commits itself to the Islamic Republic’s security and endorses its pivotal regional role; accepts Iran’s right to operate a limited enrichment facility with several hundred centrifuges for research purposes; agrees to Iran’s acquiring a new nuclear power reactor from the French; promises to back Iran’s entry into the World Trade Organization; returns seized Iranian assets; lifts all sanctions; and notes past Iranian statements that it will endorse a two-state solution acceptable to the Palestinians.
Will it work? Don't know. But I'm glad that Roger Cohen is consistently providing a nuanced view of Iran and its politics.

Read the full article here.