The Coming Showdown with Iran

Formulating the right mix of carrots and sticks in confronting Iran is extremely difficult, and the US is hardly seen in the region as an honest broker. Instead, NATO members should pledge to defend any Middle Eastern state that is attacked with nuclear weapons.

FLORENCE – US President Barack Obama’s administration has lost little time in announcing that it will seek direct talks with the Iranian government. This means, at the very least, a tough confrontation over Iran’s quest for a regional strategic advantage in the form of a nuclear weapon.

There is more at stake here than coming up with the right set of incentives and threats to change the Iranians’ minds. Rather, the time has come to approach the nuclear question in its full regional context rather than piecemeal and operationally.

The entire world knows the risk posed by a nuclear Iran: a drastically altered balance of power in the Middle East and Central Asia, with Iran able to exert far more regional leverage – both overt and implicit – than it now possesses in pursuit of its interests.

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