Reasoning with Iran

No one can say for sure that Iran's regime has formally adopted a nuclear weapons program. Although many Iranian leaders no doubt want one, others are carefully weighing the risks of preventive strikes from outside, increased isolation, and a regional nuclear arms race, all of which suggests that the West has little to gain from continuing to insist on a halt to uranium enrichment.

PARIS – Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program have been stalled for more than three years. For six years, the voices of reason have largely been drowned out, with passions and delusions claiming primacy.

Countries sitting on their own nuclear arsenals seem to think that they can give Iran orders; it’s a case of “do as I say, not as I do.” Another favorite delusion in the West is to believe that Iran will surrender if pressure is steadily increased. Anyone familiar with Iran knows that this provokes only a defiant response.

But Iran, too, harbors illusions, including the notion that it can count on support from non-Western countries, or at least from some sort of Islamic caucus. Yet, at each stage in the crisis, Iran’s supposed “friends” have let it down. Iran has also believed that it could split France, and perhaps Germany, away from the United States – as if either country would risk infuriating the Americans for the sake of a leader like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.