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Iran's Nuclear Choices and Ours

Many will welcome the resumption late this month of negotiations between the US and Iran over its nuclear program. The talks are unlikely to succeed, however, and it may be time to replace formal diplomacy with something less formal.

NEW YORK – Negotiations between Iran and the United States on Iran’s nuclear activities are set to resume on November 29. But while many will welcome this development, they should bear in mind that the talks are unlikely to succeed. And even if they do, any agreement will not resolve Iran’s push for regional primacy – or for nuclear weapons.

First, some history. In 2015, Iran and the US, along with China, France, Germany, Russia, the European Union, and the United Kingdom, entered into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement that reduced Iran’s stockpile of uranium, the level to which it could enrich its uranium, and the number of centrifuges it could operate. Extensive international inspections were put in place. Iran pledged never to develop nuclear weapons.

Experts estimated that these arrangements meant Iran would need up to a year to produce nuclear weapons if it chose to do so and that inspectors would likely catch it in the process. Most of the constraints central to the 2015 accord, however, included “sunset” provisions, meaning they expire over a 10-15-year period.

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