Grand Bargaining with Iran
Slowly but surely, Iran’s talks with the international community about its nuclear program are approaching the make-or-break point. A successful deal should mark the beginning of the international community’s efforts to engage Iran in addressing the Middle East’s toughest challenges.
STOCKHOLM – Slowly but surely, Iran’s talks with the international community about its nuclear program are approaching the make-or-break point. But, more important, the outcome could mark a turning point for the wider – and increasingly volatile – Middle East.
The rapprochement between Iran and its negotiating partners on the core nuclear issue is obvious. No one at this point seriously believes that Iran is maintaining an active program to develop nuclear weapons, though not long ago it was almost conventional wisdom that the country was close to having them.
Now the focus is on ensuring that Iran would need a year or so to assemble a nuclear device if it ever decided to do so. But the concept of “breakout time” is dubious. If trust were to collapse, and the Iranian regime decided to abrogate all of the relevant international agreements, it is highly likely that it would get its weapon, even if the country itself was bombed repeatedly. The strategic emphasis on “breakout time” is thus misplaced.