Hossein Moussavian, the former Iranian nuclear negotiator, now at Princeton, has written an important interpretation of the West’s approach to the Iranian nuclear question. According to Moussavian, writing in Arms Control Today, the US strategy has rejected repeated offers to cap Iran’s nuclear development and install maximum transparency. Instead, the US and its allies have insisted on zero enrichment, in effect demanding that Iran totally dismantle its nuclear program. Iran refused.
The results have been a steady increase in Iran’s nuclear progress on all fronts. And, as Iran’s gradual mastering of the nuclear fuel cycle has grown, the price of any settlement has increased.
Today we find ourselves in the position of imposing crushing sanctions on Iran, while Iran stubbornly digs in to uphold its national pride. This all-or-nothing approach is painting both parties into their respective corners, leaving only economic collapse or war as the way out.
Moussavian reviews, from a distinctly Iranian perspective, the ways in which the US and other negotiators have actually made the problem more severe. He downplays the negative role that Iran has played at various time, but his overall analysis is indisputable — that our tough negotiating posture and our rejection of repeated offers from the Iranian side have in fact led us to the exact opposite of what we claimed we wanted. Despite more than a decade of harsh talk and ever-increasing economic sanctions, Iran’s nuclear program today is larger and more capable than ever.
With that as our dismal track record, it is fair to ask whether More of the Same is a formula for future success.