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Genuine Engagement with Iran Still the Best Way Forward
CASMII – December 2010
In the new round of talks between Iran and the 5+1 group, there is a great opportunity for the White House and its European allies to engage Iran constructively and for mutual benefit.
Despite Western accusations and suspicions regarding Iran’s nuclear program, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, after years of activity, have found no evidence of diversion of Iran's nuclear material for military use. The 118 member states of the Non-Aligned Movement have consistently and unequivocally supported Iran’s civilian nuclear program and have now explicitly warned the IAEA against coming under political pressure for biased reporting on Iran.
For the sake of regional security, Washington and its European allies should accept the Tehran Declaration as the basis of negotiations for a nuclear fuel swap. This landmark declaration was brokered by the leaders of Brazil and Turkey in May, 2010. The arrangement, originally approved by the Obama administration itself, allows nuclear fuel rods to be exchanged outside of Iran. Iran would have no reason to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity if the US and allies supported the swap deal.
Iran has declared readiness to allow extra-intrusive inspections, i.e., the Additional Protocol, to resume if Iran's nuclear file is returned from the UN Security Council to the IAEA. For the sake of a peaceful solution, Washington should accept this offer as well as recognize Iran's sovereign right to enrich uranium at low purity for civilian power generation. This would be an important step to de-politicize the entire affair and achieve important milestones on international peace and nuclear weapons counter proliferation.
Neglecting opportunities for tension reduction can pave the way to an unnecessary and disastrous military confrontation.
Continuous threats and sanctions or dishonest US diplomacy towards Iran, as revealed by the Wikileaks documents, will not produce any results other than to poison the atmosphere for nuclear negotiations. The present arms race, uncertainty and regional insecurity can easily lead to military confrontation, just as the extremists of the previous US administration continue to advocate. For the sake of sparing Iranians and Americans another costly war and human tragedy, we urge the Obama administration to take this chance seriously and support the nuclear fuel swap agreement.