Originally published in The National Interest.
Will someone explain why they consider the policy issues raised by Iran’s recent move much of an issue, a subject that needs much deliberating? Unlike Syria, where it is difficult to know with whom to side, and Egypt—where no one seems to have any good suggestions– the situation with Iran seems abundantly clear.
No one in his right mind can suggest that the US should reject out of hand the offer by the newly elected president of Iran to show that his country’s nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes, that Iran has no intentions nor plans nor facilities for making nukes, and that all he wants in turn is for the sanctions on his country to be lifted. Of course there is no other possible response than: “great, we love it, let’s go”.
Obviously, there is room for a legitimate concern that Iran will seek drawn-out negotiations in order to buy time to advance its military nuclear program, as the Saudis, the Israelis and several observers from here and there fear. However, whether President Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the angel of peace or a smiling mullah—he already responded to this concern very effectively. He told the Washington Post’s David Ignatius that Iran wants to proceed in short order, in matter of months. “The only way forward is for a timeline to be inserted into the negotiations that’s short–and wrap it up. That is a decision of my government, that short is necessary to settle the nuclear file. The shorter it is the more beneficial it is to everyone. If it’s 3 months that would be Iran’s choice, if it’s 6 months that’s still good. It’s a question of months not years.”