Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to Keep Iran Nuclear-Free

Moscow Times, here

"... Washington has viewed the Islamic regime in Iran as an inveterate foe, if not an outright enemy, for almost 30 years, although President Barack Obama is clearly less hawkish on Iran than former President George W. Bush.

Russia has a completely different relationship with Iran, of course. Although few in Russia are ecstatic about Iran’s ultraconservative theocracy or its militaristic ranting, Iran has proved to be a good partner for Moscow. For example, it has supported Russia during its conflicts in the Caucasus and Central Asia, it cooperates with Russia in the Caspian Sea region and is an important trade partner with Russia,
particularly in the nuclear energy sector. In addition, many in the Kremlin view Iran’s anti-U.S. stance is an added bonus, particularly as Russia tries to counter Washington’s global influence.

China is even more favorably disposed toward Iran. Unlike Russia, China has never been at war with or even disagreed with Iran. .......Traditionally, China has always supported and defended any country that feeds its voracious appetite for energy, including Sudan.

three main reasons why Iran wants nuclear weapons:

1. They are needed to guarantee national security. A former high-ranking U.S. diplomat once explained to me why the United States and NATO bombed Yugoslavia for violating human rights, but not China. “Because China has nuclear weapons,” he said. Iranian leaders know this basic rule of international relations very well.

2. They would propel Iran to the position of regional superpower in the Middle East, and perhaps beyond.

3. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the conservative clergy supporting him want nuclear weapons to neutralize internal opposition, to rally Iranian society around the call to fight off foreign threats and to bolster patriotism and national dignity.....

1. The United States takes concrete steps to establish full-scale, normal relations with Tehran. Washington should provide Tehran with an array of security, political and economic incentives to dissuade Iran from joining the nuclear club.

2. The United States, Russia and other nuclear powers should prove to Iran that they are ready to move toward complete nuclear disarmament in agreement with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1968.

But both of these conditions are very difficult to satisfy. The United States is not accustomed to making concessions to “rogue” states, and this true for both Republican and Democratic administrations. Second, Israel would surely be against closer U.S.-Iranian ties, as would China and Russia. As for the question of nuclear disarmament, the members of the nuclear club know better than anyone else what huge geopolitical benefits come with being a nuclear power. But global nuclear disarmament, as utopian as it may sound, offers the only possible chance that
Iran will ever step down from its desire to acquire nuclear weapons.

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