The Bush administration ought to send a mission to Iran to directly negotiate the nuke issue. Up until now the US has had no good ideas for how to stem the Islamic Republic's lust for the nuclear tipped big "B". Using ineffectual European negotiators like guinea pigs and throwing around threats through pro forma UN Security Council resolutions ain't gonna' do the trick. Only a one on one between the Great Satan and the Ayatollah's men will provide traction.
Even if Russia and China veto Security Council article 7 which allows for a big explosion in the sky if a member nation contravenes international law, the US, France and G.B., the remaining Security Council members, might still choose the military option. The mushroom cloud is a nearing and pigheadedness reigns supreme. Write your congressman to propose direct negotiations with Iranian officials. Otherwise, stock up on peanut butter, get yourself a gas mask and pick up a copy of Godot. Nothing makes sense anymore.
According to this interview with Michael Levi, a fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations on Science and Technology, we've come to an impasse in negotiations. Having recently returned from conferences in Tehran, Levi believes that the Iranians have no intention of discussing the security component of nuclear processing. If this is the case, he says, then the US and Iran are talking on different wave lengths (Iran's interested in limiting negotiation to discussion of the use of civilian nuclear technology; the US, on the other hand, wants a full cessation of production, including military components).
Here's an excerpt from the article:
Before you left the United States you said you were pessimistic. Now you're even more pessimistic about the chances for resolution of the nuclear issues. Why?
I'm pessimistic for a couple of reasons. First, the Iranians seem very confident, and do not act like they want to compromise. Some speak about openings for possible discussions, but they are interested, at most, in discussions about capping their enrichment program at some intermediate level for some time. That's not even something the United States is willing to talk about. The other problem is the Iranians are unwilling to talk about the nuclear program as a security issue, when it fundamentally is one. And the United States can't engage and try to find ways to solve the security problems—even if it wants to—if its counterparts on the other side aren't willing to discuss them as a security issue.
They don't see the possibility of an arrangement where they're guaranteed the right to have nuclear power under very careful safeguards?
When you look at any proposed technical arrangement for keeping the Iranian nuclear program going—but safe—if Iran is interested in it, you have to ask, Why are they willing to accept this? If they want to preserve a nuclear weapons option and they are willing to accept a particular arrangement, that particular arrangement probably preserves a nuclear weapons option, and is then inherently unacceptable to the United States. And vice versa.
Until you change the security situation, if you can, these sorts of technical solutions will miss the mark. Now the particular one that's got a lot of attention is this concept of guaranteed fuel supplies, where another country or consortium of countries would guarantee fuel supplies. That has an extra problem, which is that Iran trusts no one. Iranians, despite the fact these meetings were held a few days before possible Security Council action, had nothing good to say for Russia, nothing good to say for China. Actually, they went on at length about how Russia had double-crossed them in the past and how they couldn't trust those sorts of countries.
On the whole question of U.S.-Iranian security arrangements, a number of experts have said what the two sides need to do is sit down and talk about the whole range of issues, not just Iraq, but all kinds of security issues. The United States has shown virtually no interest in this, or it has shown interest in talking only about Iraq. Do the Iranians have an interest in wide-ranging talks?
I think there is interest in talks, at least in the pragmatist camps. The fact that one day of these meetings was devoted to regional security issues reflects that. There are various varieties of the statement that there should be talks on the full range of issues. One says we'll need those so we can solve all these things together. I think that is—I wouldn't say over-optimistic—but at least it's going to prevent us from finding a solution to the nuclear problem on the timeline we need to stick to. But having these discussions on broader regional issues in parallel with the nuclear discussions would be very useful, and would provide an opportunity to explore Iran's security concerns and ways to address them without explicitly talking about theme in the context of the nuclear deal.
Anyone with a proposal for how best to deal with this issue, please chime in.