Iran’s Options

Iran is the Middle East’s essential regional player, yet few Iranian leaders seem to understand that only responsible behavior can create the legitimacy and acceptance that they seek from their neighbors. Unless and until they do, Iran will never be regarded as a status-quo power.

Berlin -- With President Bush in Europe getting EU leaders to agree to toughen UN sanctions against Iran, and with the ongoing debate between John McCain and Barack Obama about whether the US needs to talk with Iran’s rulers, the issue of Iran’s nuclear program is heating up.  Iranians, no surprise, are watching this debate with interest.  They need to do more than watch.

Iran’s political elite sees the United States, rather than Europe, as their appropriate international counterpart. Only the US can give the Islamic Republic the security guarantees it craves. The US, indeed, should be prepared to eventually give such guarantees if it wants Iran to stop the more suspicious parts of its nuclear program.  

But Iran must do its part to make any future dialogue with the US a success. In talks with members of Iran’s policy community, I am continually astounded that they see resolving the nuclear conflict (or, indeed, other problems in which Iran has a stake) to be primarily the responsibility of the US, Europe, and other major powers, not of Iran.

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