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The Iran Nuclear Crisis [Rush Transcript; Federal News Service, Inc.]

Panelists: Charles D. Ferguson, CFR Fellow for Science and Technology, CFR, Stephen Sestanovich, CFR George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies, CFR, and Ray Takeyh, CFR Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, CFR
January 31, 2006
Council on Foreign Relations


Council on Foreign Relations
Washington, DC

LEE FEINSTEIN: Welcome, all, This is part of our series of -- I think David didn't quite put it this way, but of usual suspects talking about -- (word inaudible) -- issues, and we're really pleased you could come and join us. This is obviously on the record. And I don't need to introduce my colleagues. You have their and my biographical information.

But what we decided to do was each of us will just say something very briefly to kick off a discussion and then we'll continue that discussion with all of you. We'll do it in order of Takeyh, Ferguson, Sestanovich and Feinstein, with Ray discussing the internal dynamic in Iran; and Charles talking about some of the military dimensions as well as the status of Iran's nuclear program; Steve on our reliable partners, the Russians; and then I will just say a little bit about the diplomacy and the non-proliferation regime.

So with that, Ray, start.

RAY TAKEYH: Sure. I'll just say a few things briefly about Iranian calculations, as anybody can understand them, after a couple of days of remarkably inept Iranian diplomacy.

But I think to begin with, in terms of understanding sort of Iran's overall approach to this issue, to the issue of nuclear program, I would say it's important not to view this as a necessarily sort of a -- the hard-liners coming to power determined to move ahead with a nuclear program, because although the Islamic Republic is perennially factionalized with disagreements and power struggles and rivalries, this, I will say, is one of the few issues that is beginning to actually transcend the factional divide. It has sort of unified the different segments of the political system, from the left to the right to the center, from the reformists to the hard-liners. And some of the steps that Iran took in terms of beginning its nuclear program, particularly with the starting of the Isfahan plant, actually took place under the reformist tenure. And in essence, there is a sort of consensus within Iran's body politic that the EU-3 negotiations ill serve them.

They neither generated the type of security and economic assurances that North Korea may still get, they didn't necessarily provoke lasting cleavages between United States and its European allies, and so there was no need to continue with the suspension and it was time to gradually but incrementally reverse those commitments to the EU-3 and begin the unsuspension of the program.

Nevertheless, it's undeniable that since August, I suppose, the Iranian nuclear calculations have somewhat altered. And what's interesting about those nuclear calculus is that although everybody talks about all these international situations and so on, increasingly Iran's nuclear program is being derived by internal factors that are to some extent immune from external pressures or, for that matter, external inducements, for the new regime comes into power with a sort of well-honed suspicion of the United States, a suspicion that was born out of its experience in the war with Iraq -- Iran's war with Iraq -- for eight years.

And essentially they have two particular assumptions about the United States. This is Ahmadinejad and some of his Cabinet members and those who are close to him. The first assumption is that conflict with the United States is nearly inevitable, and therefore what Iran has to do in terms of securing its territory and the viability of this regime is to have a credible deterrence capability, not that dissimilar to the calculations, I guess, the Chinese made in 1949-1950; namely, if conflict is inevitable, let's have it out in North Korea. Again, this similar sort of a suspicion of the United States that this is not a relationship that can be rationalized, much less normalized; conflict is endemic to it.

The second assumption that the new government makes is that this is not really about the nuclear issue; that Americans don't really object to our nuclear infrastructure, they object to the character of the regime, and they're using the nuclear issue as a means of multilateralizing their pressure on us. I mean, my favorite quote of Ahmadinejad, he says, "Well, look, if we give in on the nuclear program, they'll ask for human rights. If we give in on human rights, they'll ask for animals rights." (Laughter.) So there's just no end to the demands that the United States can make. If Americans are really, truly concerned about the nuclear issue, what are they doing in terms of Pakistan, unregulated nuclear depositories, what are they doing about India and so on? So this is not about the nuclear issue, it's about us and them. It's about the fact that they don't accept the Islamic regime and they're looking for ways to undermine it, so therefore there's no necessary of making concessions, because concessions don't necessarily alleviate the American pressure.

So where do you go from here? Since I think my time is running out. I suspect that, as I said, increasingly what's driving Iran's nuclear ambitions are internal factors. In addition to these calculations, I will say that one disturbing thing that is happening is increasingly you're beginning to see Iran's nuclear program and national identity fuse together. So it's becoming more of a national issue, as opposed to regime's program or a factional issue.

And the demands that the international community are making on Iran, from their perspective, tend to exceed their obligations to the NPT. In essence, what the United States is calling -- and the Europeans and much of the international community is calling on Iran to irrevocably and permanently suspend its rights under Article IV of the NPT, without any measurable benefits or concessions.

So in essence, what they're arguing is that the NPT is being renegotiated exclusively for one country: us. And for a country which throughout the 20th century has experienced imposition of capitulation treaties, that tends to -- offends its nationalistic sensitivities.

And therefore, from the perspective of the regime, this is a clever issue of consolidating its power, deflecting attention from some of its domestic deficiencies and so forth, which makes less of an incentive for it to back down and makes its ability to back down even limited. They've been going up and down their country saying this is the most important national issue since the 1953 oil nationalization crisis. They can't turn around and say, "Whoops! But we've got to back down."

So the rhetoric of Iran for the past couple of years has created a certain reality, and that reality is constraining its diplomacy.

Where do you go from here? I mean, this is a regime that's capable of dramatic shifts. I suspect that the issue of nuclear enrichment indigenously done, maybe with some modifications, is a red line for the regime. And if there -- you know, it's a red line for the Europeans. It's a red line for the Iranians. I don't know if there's much room to harmonize those two perspectives. And I suspect what Iranians will do is gradually reverse their commitments to the EU-3; namely, when a plant is ready to get started, it gets started in the context of the IAEA inspection process. But at some point, I suspect, Iranians will have to make some more fundamental decisions regarding the nuclear program, namely that they will make -- cross the threshold into weaponry and so on. I don't think technologically they're there yet, but I don't -- based upon everything they say, based upon everything they do, I don't anticipate them refreezing the program.

So I'll stop. I'll stop there.

FEINSTEIN: Thanks, Ray.


CHARLES FERGUSON: Thanks, Lee and Ray and --


FERGUSON: -- and Steve -- (laughs) -- while I sort of hand off here the baton.

Well, Ray advised me to go light on talk about isotopes, so I don't want bore people in talking about the difference between uranium 235 and uranium 238.

But I'd like to hit three themes. Before I get into the three themes, I want to mention that Ray and I will have a forthcoming article in Arms Control Today. And I'm glad to see Miles Pomper, the editor of ACT.

The three themes I'm going to touch upon briefly are:

How soon before Iran could actually make the bomb?

Two, what are the military options, if there are any?

And could a military strike degrade, delay or destroy Iran's nuclear program?

And three -- I'll just touch very quickly on the Russia deal. I'm not going to steal Steve's thunder, but just kind of look at it from a technical perspective and ask, does the Russia deal as we have seen it described in the press so far actually make sense?

Okay. Timelines to the bomb. Well, last year it was reported that the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, NIE, said Iran could be, say, 10 years away. That seems to be the longest timeline we've seen that's been leaked yet out in the open.

Double I, double S, International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based group, very well respected, published a report last year, and they said about five years away, and that was sort of their kind of worst-case estimate assuming that Iran can solve technical problems and field uranium centrifuges quickly enough and get them operating. They said about five years.

And then more recently, ISIS, Institute for Science and International Security, said worst-case, in their view, was maybe three, three-and-a-half years.

So those are the estimates that we've seen so far that seem credible, and they're based on how quickly has Iran been able to assemble uranium centrifuges, and prior to the suspension, it was about 70 to 100 centrifuges a month. And you typically need 1,500-2,000 or so before you have enough centrifuges to begin to enrich enough uranium for one bomb per year. So that's kind of the threshold they'd have to cross. They'd have to get about 1,500-2,000 or so of these centrifuges they're working on to cross that threshold. And if you do work out the math, it comes out to three or four years away assuming they don't run into major technical glitches.

They still have a lot of technical problems to overcome. They still are working on mastering this uranium conversion process, that Ray mentioned, back in August. They started work on that process again. There are a lot of impurities within that system. They got to remove the impurities before they can actually begin enriching the uranium-hexafluoride gas they'd make from the conversion facility. Then the next step and a very crucial step for making a bomb or reactor fuel is mastering uranium enrichment, and they have -- you know, a lot of research was going on prior to suspension. And then on the January 10th this year when they removed those IAEA seals, that was to begin to do more research on uranium enrichment and try to master that technique.

But they've got a lot of work ahead of them. They got to, you know, clean out the pipes in the uranium enrichment cascade, repair broken centrifuges. So we're talking probably a few months, maybe several months of work ahead of them before they can begin to actually do some actual enrichment.

Okay. So let me just move on to the next theme, military options. There's been a lot of chatter about keeping these options on the table. And so, the way I see it, you have basically three things you could try to do with the military option. You could try to degrade their nuclear capability. And so, is that possible with some type of nuclear -- not nuclear strike. Excuse me. That just slipped out -- military strike. And, yes. I mean, it's possible. You bomb the enrichment facility, obviously you're going to degrade their capability.

But you -- can you delay the onset to the Iranian bomb? Maybe. But you could -- you perhaps accelerate it, you know, because it would really stimulate them to cross the nuclear rubicon because you've showed your hand, you've showed that you're willing to use military force to try to damage their nuclear program.

And then finally, could you actually destroy -- really knock out the nuclear program so it's likely that they can never resurrect this again? And I think that military option is very unlikely to take place. I mean, you can imagine they have to go out and target individual Iranian nuclear scientists and somehow rub them out, you know -- (laughs) -- to make sure that they stop the program in its tracks. And that's very, very far-fetched.

Well, there seems to be two models -- you look at military options, two models to consider. There's the so-called Osirak model, which means that in 1981 when Israel targeted the Iraqi reactor that everyone believed was going to produce plutonium for an Iraqi nuclear bomb, and that was one juicy target. And that was relatively easy to take out. And Israel experienced international opprobrium when that happened, the United States condemned it at the time, but behind closed doors everyone said, Yay! We're glad they did that! And, you know, it's questionable whether that actually delayed Saddam Hussein from actually eventually trying to get a nuclear bomb. Fortunately, they didn't get the nuclear bomb because we had the 1991 Gulf War. But after that Gulf War we found out that they were getting pretty close to developing a nuclear bomb. So what happened is we knocked out the plutonium program, or Israel knocked it out, and then Iraq decided to pursue a different path, the uranium enrichment path, the path that Iran is really banking on right now. And then, the other model is a(n) Operation Desert Fox model. And I think this is more applicable to what we're facing now.

In 1998 -- think back to December 1998, when we had an impasse, we had U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Richard Butler filed a report with the U.N. Security Council and said Saddam Hussein and his people in their nuclear program, in their WMD programs are blocking us; they're not being cooperative. You know, this is the straw that broke the camel's back, and we aren't getting proper access.

Then the very next day, President Clinton said, "Okay, this will not stand, as Saddam Hussein has abused his last chance." Then President Clinton ordered a military attack against a number of facilities -- about 100 different targets within Iraq over a four-day campaign. It's actually about a 72-hour campaign stretched over about four days.

Militarily, it was a smashing success. They destroyed vast -- what's that?

FEINSTEIN: So to speak.

FERGUSON: So to speak -- yeah, right -- in terms of destroying targets. You know, Pentagon analysts said they destroyed a majority of the targets. But what -- the upshot was that we created a black box. And after that, we couldn't get inspectors back in until the current President Bush was able to assemble a weaker coalition that had existed prior to that in 2002 and get inspectors back in. But by then, the damage had been done.

But if you look at surgical strikes, there are various sub options here, and I'll try to wrap up quickly.

If we could just target sensitive nuclear facilities plus the air defenses around them. That's probably, you know, the -- probably the step that's more likely to take place if military options are exercised. Or we could target all known nuclear facilities, including the Bushehr reactor, but I think that's very unlikely because President Bush has said, "Look, the Iranians should have a civilian nuclear program," and he's willing to explore this Russia deal. So I don't think we would target all or known nuclear facilities.

Another option is we could target sensitive nuclear facilities and suspected WMD sites, places where we think Iran has chemical and biological weapons in addition to missile sites, really to degrade their ability to project power using any unconventional weapons.

Okay, now let me just -- I know my time has run out. I apologize for that. Let me just mention where I think there's a problem with the Russia deal, as it's been reported -- that is, it looks as if that the way the deal may take place is that Iran would be allowed to master the Iranian conversion process and then send that converted uranium to Russia to be enriched. Well, if that's so, then right there, we're removing a technical stumbling block in the Iranian program. We're allowing them to master a sensitive part of the fuel cycle, so I think we need to more carefully think through this Russia deal. And another potential option within the deal is that Iran could continue to research on uranium enrichment. And if they master that technology, as I mentioned earlier, then they've removed all the major technical hurdles to eventually building a nuclear bomb.


FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much.

And that's a good segue to Steve Sestanovich.

STEPHEN SESTANOVICH: Okay, great. I'm going to touch on -- Charles touched on three themes. I've got five, but I'll be quick. What's the broad Russian approach? What are the main questions about what they're doing over the next few weeks and months? What's the context for Russian-American relations? What's the context of great power relations? And what's the Russian view of Iran?

First, their response -- their attitude toward Iranian nuclear weapons has been remarkably consistent over time. It has had the following elements. First of all, opposition to the idea of Iranian nuclear weapons, saying that they have an obligation to live up to the NPT. Russian officials typically say, you know, "We're closer to Iran than you are, so we don't want them to have these weapons." But the second element of it is avoiding confrontation and pressure on Iran so as not to put the broader Russian-Iranian relationship at risk. And third, an emphasis on practical fixes. Over the years, when the United States objected to the Bushehr reactor, the Russian approach was always to say, "Look, we're going to buy back the fuel, we will keep control of the materials, and that will keep this from being a serious threat." Now, as the emphasis of international focus is on enrichment, the Russians again say, "Look, let's try to deal with the question who's got the stuff that's dangerous, and we can solve that problem."

And I think those elements are captured in yesterday's understanding with the other P-5 members -- required compliance, but hold off on sending to the Security Council while there's a pause for negotiations with the Russians about fuel. And Putin repeated this at his press conference today. He said we have offered to set up a network of nuclear fuel cycle centers to which the Iranians would be invited to participate.

Okay, how does this get applied in the next couple of weeks, and what are the main questions that we should ask about it? The first is, what is -- and Charles touched on this in part -- what kind of arrangement are the Russians really talking about, and are the U.S. and the EU likely to regard it as a real solution or just an evasion of the problem? And the Russians have been a bit vague about what it is they are actually trying to put in place.

Putin, for example, today talked about the arrangement that they're offering as non-discriminatory. Well, interesting. It suggests -- and this may be diplomatic sweet talk or it may imply that it's not going to be particularly restrictive with respect to Iranian participation. And the U.S. and the Europeans will want to know a lot about how air-tight the arrangements are that the Russians are talking about.

Secondly, what kind of political pressures will -- political or other pressures will the Russians contemplate if Iran is not cooperative? This is an issue that the Russians have always preferred to dodge when there have been signs of suspicious Iranian nuclear activities. They have never wanted to say, for example, that they would put their project at Bushehr at risk, much less their broader cooperative relationship -- relationship of nuclear cooperation with Iran.

Are the Russians prepared to put any significant pressure on the Iranians if they don't cooperate? That question hasn't really been addressed. And it leave leaves the U.S. and the Europeans with an uncertainty about what the Russian goals are. To put it most starkly, is the Russian aim to get Iran to "yes" or to "maybe"? And "yes" would mean a kind of verifiable cessation of activities that would move them closer to nuclear weapons capability; "maybe" would just be a kind of cover that would not really solve the problem.

The Russians may not have faced this problem or decided. They may still be trying to steer a middle course. In doing so, what will they be guided by? Let me mention -- these are my other three themes: Russian- American relations, relations among the great powers, and their view of Iran.

The context of Russian-American relations is interesting. Iran is essentially the main issue on which American policymakers can still imagine a significant kind of cooperation with the Russians. There's not much else in the relationship right now that is really positive. If you talk to American officials about what they're hoping to get out of this relationship, it's this. And if they have to explain why it is they're not complaining more about other problematic elements of the relationship, it's because they want to create a -- increase the chances of getting Russian cooperation in this area. But the other side of that is, for the Russians, if they do not seem like good partners on this issue, then what's left of Russian-American relations?

I mentioned the context of major-power relations, and here what I mean in particular is how closely the U.S. and the EU will be able to coordinate their policies on this issue over the next weeks and months, because when there is some daylight between the U.S. and Europeans, the Russians feel -- are much more inclined to exploit their wiggle room and feel much less pressure from the West. On the other hand, when there is a full unity of American and European views, the Russians tend to be unhappy with the idea of allowing themselves to be the naysayers and be allied only with China. And even with their new-found confidence, their sense that they're at the center of this diplomatic process and with all their petro-wealth, there still is a desire not to be isolated on this issue.

But the choices are becoming more difficult for them. They may have some hopes of -- although Ray would certainly discourage them -- thinking that there is some way of solving the problem of Iranian nuclear enrichment. What they're hearing from the U.S. and the Europeans about what they will be asked to do if the Iranians don't play ball has got to worry them. And the way in which the German foreign minister this week, for example, talked about putting the whole trade relationship with Iran in the balance obliges them to consider a kind of breach in their relationship that they've always tried to dodge. They don't want to come to the G-8 this summer -- come to the G-8 -- have the G-8 come to them at a time when they are the least -- they're the member of the group with a different position on Iran.

Finally, their view of Iran, which I think is, of course, responding to the same kinds of Iranian rhetoric and Iranian actions in the same way that other countries have, they are shocked. The Iranians have made it pretty difficult for them to be the Iranian's lawyer in this process.

I would note that the Russians have actually seen the radicalization of Iranian politics coming for some time. Three, four years ago, when in the West it was still common to hear about the ascendency of moderates in the Iranian regime, Russian officials were talking about the radicals taking over. So they are prepared for what is happening in Iran now, much less inclined to think that there's an internal domestic solution that will make it easy for them to come to terms with the Iranians, and more worried about the direction of Iranian politics.


FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Steve.

We're reducing the number -- well, you had more themes in less time. I'll have fewer themes, and hopefully less time as well. Just talk about two issues very briefly. One, sort of the challenges the United States faces going into this phase, and what the U.S. goals need to be in order to grapple with some of these challenges, if not resolve them.

Just as a general observation, the United States enters this phase of its relationship with Iran on the nuclear issue playing a very weak hand, and there are five reasons. First, the Security Council is not the best place to address these kinds of issues. There's really no history of a Security Council referral compelling or coercing or encouraging a state with nuclear ambitions to give them up, except in the case of Iraq, where we sent to war. Security Council referral is normally seen as the end of the road, not the beginning of the road. And Steve -- I thought it was a very interesting distinction of getting Iran to "yes" versus getting Iran to "no" -- excuse me. Getting Iran to "maybe" versus getting Iran to "no." And that is a good way of summarizing what nuclear diplomacy generally is: Are you buying time or are you trying to end a program? And I think the U.S. goal in this case is probably buying time -- or ought to be buying time, not getting Iran immediately to give up everything.

But if you look at the history of nuclear diplomacy and efforts to get countries either to give up all of their nuclear programs or just to get into a position of ambiguity, the Security Council is not a place to address these issues. The Security Council's successes, in general, have required diplomacy by -- outside the Security Council, usually outside the glare of New York where -- and by the way, in New York the United States loses control over the diplomacy and, of course, the country that is the object of the diplomacy threatens to lose face. Just look historically at the nos: Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine -- where the United States was successful in getting these countries to give up their nuclear weapons, withdraw them back to Russia. The solution was a negotiation with Russia and Britain and security guarantees. In the case of Libya, there was technically a referral to the Security Council -- or a report to the Security Council, but in truth, the diplomacy took place in advance of that and it was essentially a capitulation by Libya in exchange for some trade benefits.

So the referral to the Security Council in some respects is a demonstration of the lack of options that the administration perceives it has, and the international community, rather than an indication of strengthen.

The second point is, it needs to be said -- and I don't think anything else needs to be said about this -- that the U.S. lack of credibility on WMD and the raw memories of the last time there was a referral to the Security Council have a real impact on the U.S. position in New York, and it's not a helpful impact.

Third -- the third difficulty the United States faces is the relationship between the United States and Europe and the degree to which there will be -- whether the U.S. -- let me start that again.

The issue here is that the United States and Europe, although they are agreeing now, their agreement is likely to be very transitory. There are philosophical differences between the United States and the EU on the whole issue of sanctions, on the issue of extraterritoriality, on the philosophy of sanctions. And if the Iran issue moves to the next phase, where sanctions need to be considered, I think it's very likely that you'll start to see some space between the United States and Europe.

And in general, there's a difference of opinion on the issue of engagement and dealing with Iran more broadly, although Ahmadinejad is helping the United States in that regard, with his various outrageous statements.

Fourth -- and Steve discussed this very well -- is the Russia relationship. The United States does not presently have a tremendous amount of leverage with Russia. Not only that; to the degree that the United States has leverage with Russia, it has a number of other issues it wants to address with Russia, many of them going to what is happening internally in Russia. Putin is very cleverly trying to make the United States have to decide between Russia's position on Iran and such things as the NGO law and other domestic developments in Russia. But that's going to be increasingly difficult for the United States to do, particularly in the run-up to the G-8.

And the final obstacle or difficulty the United States faces is that -- is regime change in Iran. The United States bet on regime change in Iran during the first administration, and it got it. It's just that it got it in the wrong direction.

And the change in leadership in Iran makes this a much more difficult issue politically, domestically, for the administration, and gives the administration much less wiggle room.

I said that the U.S. goal ought to be get Iran to maybe, borrowing Steve's phrase. That is a very, very difficult position for the United States to sustain politically in an environment where Ahmadinejad makes the kinds of statements he's been making.

So very briefly, what should the U.S. goals be in the next phase of negotiations? I have five, two of which I made up during the course of this conversation.

One is that the United States needs to change the subject. It needs to shift the burden. The burden has been on the United States and the discriminatory nature of what the United States is doing, as Ray very nicely described in his opening -- that Iran has managed to change the subject to the fact that it's Iran that's being discriminated -- that it has certain rights under the NPT, and to suggest otherwise is just to expose the imperial practices of the United States and the West.

What the United States needs to do now by working more closely with the Europeans and the Russians is to focus the fact on Iranian violations and the fact that Iran has yet to satisfactorily explain the violations that came to light three years ago to the IAEA and to the international community. That's the basis on which the United States and the international community needs to deny Iran its own indigenous enrichment capability.

The second goal or tactic that the United States needs to pursue to address some of these difficulties is to manage its difficult relationship with ElBaradei. And I think actually here the United States has done pretty well. And ElBaradei so far has shown himself to be very pragmatic with respect to Iran, and he's also been becoming increasingly frustrated with his relationship with Iran. And so I think that this problem is likely to take care of itself.

The next issue is that the United States needs to disentangle referral to the Security Council with the idea of sanctions. Sanctions are probably going to buy the United States very, very little. And already we saw in last night's agreement that the United States said it's going to defer on the issue of sanctions or the P-5 said it would defer on the issue of sanctions. There are other things the Security Council could do. By the way, one of the things the Security Council could do is nothing, and that, in some respects, might be better than taking some explicit action through a Security Council decision, as that might put Iranian backs against the wall and also limit the options, more importantly, for the rest of the world.

So that leaves you with two -- me with two final points. Now, that the United States seems to have succeeded in getting this issue to the Security Council -- at least if the P-5 agreement is successful in leveraging the IAEA on February 2nd to do that -- the next U.S. step ought to be to get out of the Security Council. Now, that you've gotten there, get out as quickly as possible. You've made your point, and you should begin to pursue -- try to get onto a track that the United States was supporting before with the EU and with a more -- with a closer relationship with Russia.

And finally -- and here I may disagree with some of my colleagues -- if there's any glimmer of light in addressing the situation if it goes to the Russian proposal, which is unclear and opaque at this time, but if there is any possibility of coming to any kind of diplomatic agreement -- and the odds of this are long, and they're growing longer -- it's that. And I guess I would say to Ray -- and obviously, I defer to him on what's happening inside Iran -- but just instinctively, I find it hard to see how the idea of indigenous nuclear enrichment now can really be a nationalist rallying cry. And I think you can probably find a way as a nationalist leader to preserve your rights under the NPT while agreeing on an indefinite basis to subcontract out that capability to the Russians.

It is about five to one, and I'll turn it over to all of you.

QUESTIONER: Lee, in your list of things that limit our -- the president's options here or the U.S. options, you didn't mention Iraq. And I sort of be interested to hear what several of you have to say on that question. Does it -- and you could argue -- I've heard this argued both ways. I mean, obvious, one way is we're so tied up that the Iranians figure we've got our plate full. The North Koreans have the same calculation. The other argument is we have our troops in the region anyway, and you know, gives you the lurking threat without making one that you have all sorts of military options without having to move people into the theatre.

FEINSTEIN: Right. Well, it's an opportunity and an obstacle. I mean, the opportunity is that there is this implicit threat out there of American forces in the region. But clearly, the Iranians also have a lot of influence in the region and probably, in some respects, more influence than the United States or maybe some more effective ways of affecting the situation in Iraq than the United States.

And so I think for the United States the best way to deal with this is to leave that implied and to pursue this negotiation, in some respects, without reference to Iraq.

But did Ray want to add anything on that?

TAKEYH: Well, I actually think Iraq is pretty much tangential to this. The fact that American forces are in Iraq or not it is unlikely that the Iraqi government will accede to military operations being launched from Iraq. Two -- and this is going to -- if their plane is going to take off, they're going to take off from Florida. I mean, let's just face that. So in that sense, the fact that the United States is in Iraq does not give it a military advantage or disadvantage.

Now, the question of Iraq becomes significant in terms of the potential Iranian retaliation that could come in Iraq. I mean, you know, Donald Rumsfeld said they have 65,000 -- 6,500 Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, and -- even more significant, Iranians have penetrated the Iraqi Ministry of Intelligence and Interior up and down, so they know what's taking place.

But I actually don't think there'll be a measurable Iranian retaliation in Iraq because the success of a (Shi'a ?)-dominated government is in Iran's own interest. I think what Iranians may try to do is and they can have capability of doing that is kind of pushing the American casualties up a little bit with anonymity and therefore impunity. You can go from 3-4 American dead a day to 5-6. They can do that easily without essentially being traced back to them. I mean, a car blows up outside a certain American installation. Who's to determine the genesis of that? Who gave the order? So the United States can run into the problems that the British have run in southern Iraq. Namely, there is suspicion of Iranian munitions coming in, but you can't really verify the genesis and origins and so on.

So in that sense, I'm not quite sure if Iraq plays into this with a degree of significance that it does. And one way it could play into it is, you know, whether anyone takes United States' claims regarding the Middle Eastern countries proliferation tendencies seriously, and I think on this one there's a greater degree of international agreement because there's IAEA reports and so on and so forth.


QUESTIONER: Can I ask Stephen a bit more about Russia's position? Because I've never really fathomed this out. If we get to the stage where Iran carries out its threat to break off the additional protocol and starts more work in that end -- and obviously, there will be pressure in the U.N. and the U.S. and the EU will start to organize sanctions -- I just imagine under those circumstances how Russia can very easily go ahead with the whole Bushehr project and sort of deliver fuel to the reactor that's waiting for it. I can't really imagine them really going ahead with these massive arms sales to Iran, either.

So in that case, if they're forced into a position of -- you know, having to sort of cut off this economic relationship with Iran anyway, they might as well sort of go along with tougher pressure on Iran and sort of get something out of it from the Americans, so -- unlike on the NGO issue or something like that.

Well, what do the Russians get out of this?

SESTANOVICH: Well, the Russian position is awkward. They have a great preference for a kind of informal diplomacy, where they don't have to take a categorical and confrontational line that says, "Bushehr is off." Rather, they prefer to delay the deliveries of fuel. They don't like to say, you know, the arms sales are off. The other economic relations are suspended, but they might slow-roll those things, too. They prefer to keep their options open, and not to line up in a solid phalanx with the U.S. and the Europeans against Iran. They like the honest broker, special central place that they've gotten for themselves here, and have never been prepared to address the question of, "Well, if it doesn't work, are they going to go further?"

The Iranians are making it hard for them. I completely agree with you. If you have -- and I think, you know, it's worth commenting on. I think this process has actually gone further than most people expected. The P-5 didn't look in September when the IAEA met as though it was going to be unified. You had the Chinese and the Russians abstaining. Now you've got completely, thanks to Iranian policy, a sort of stronger P-5 bloc here than anybody really imagined. But that makes it harder just to stop with that. They have to -- you know, now that they've discovered they can be unified, they have to show they can do something with it, and the Iranians are making that a lot harder.

QUESTIONER: There's talk about the international community -- I mean, is the -- I mean, looking at the Board of Governors meeting -- is there really unanimity beyond the P-5? I'm wondering about the role of other countries -- India and kind of where that -- is it really the world against Iran? Is that really -- or are we likely to see something else?

MR. : Or is it just the nuclear powers against Iran?

QUESTIONER: Yeah. Are we likely to see something else --

MR. : And Germany.

(Cross talk.)

TAKEYH: Well, the P-5 ain't what it used to be in the sense that it does not convey any kind of a (NAM ?) -- it doesn't have a (NAM ?) coloration to it, that's what you're saying. And it doesn't -- it's not necessarily persuasive to some other countries, which see this is as the big guys teaming up against the little guys. But it probably is helpful with a country like India, right, which just has to go along now and doesn't have to be -- put its neck out first.

FEINSTEIN: Miles on the list, and I've got Paul next.

QUESTIONER: Two questions. One for Lee.

The statement that came out last night talked about reporting versus not referral. And maybe you can explain what the difference is because I don't really get it. But what difference that makes in terms of law and if that's -- maybe Ray can talk about if it's going to make any difference to the Iranians. My impression is probably not.

The second question is a question of sanctions, and you were skeptical on the use -- the utility of sanctions in this context. And it sounds like if you were going to do sanctions, you would probably favor doing something starting off with the small ones and building up -- smart sanctions or some kind of statement and then building up, whereas from Ray's comments, it seems to me that if they're this immune to outside pressure, the only sanctions that are going to work are if we hit them hard and fast early on. If I could get a reaction to that as well.

FEINSTEIN: Well, I don't need to start.

But, Ray, why don't you --

TAKEYH: Yeah, I don't know the difference between referral and reporting. It seems to me the September 2005 IAEA resolution already said that this issue was in the purview of the Security Council, so Iran was deferred in principle if not in practice. So this is some time in coming.

On the issue of sanctions, it seems to me that the U.S. policy is now suggesting that you can craft sort of a multilateral package of pressures and sanctions that would essentially get Iran to back down. I think that it's possible to get a package of multilateral sanctions and pressures to get Iran to back down, but I don't anticipate that coming in terms of the -- you know, the P-5, Security Council and so on. I mean, I think when you talk about prohibition of trade to Iran, even outside the oil sector, it's not just the Russians, but the Germans and others are sort of equivocal about that, initiation of new investment and so on. So I don't think the international community is prepared to accept this sort of stringent economic sanctions that the United States has imposed on Iran for the past 27 years, certainly strengthened in the past 10 years. That kind of a pressure is unlikely to be molded.

So what you have is a position that's a sort of unenviable position, is you have some pressure but not enough. And I don't know where this is going to go in terms of the continued solidarity of the international community, because I think in order for the Untied States to get this package from Vienna to New York, it had to make all sorts of concessions, and as you make concessions, the type of pressure that you want to bring about dilutes. And I think that's just what you're going to have.

I suspect -- I always suspected that the IAEA/Security Council process will eventually yield an impasse, and the question is, where do you go after that? There was impasse on North Korea, was impasse on Iraq. And then what happens? Then what happens to the American calculations, to the Russian calculations, to the Germans and everybody -- and the Iranians and everybody else's? There are so many unpredictable factors to it that I can't really grasp all of them.

FEINSTEIN: But the last time there were sanctions like this executed were in response to the Indian and nuclear Pakistani tests. And then there was another meeting in London, and it was the G-7 plus Russia at that time. And actually the G-7 -- I was actually at that meeting, and the G-7 agreed on IFI sanctions -- sanctions by the World Bank and the IMF for all but humanitarian programs. And they actually lasted -- outlasted the Tiananmen Square sanctions. So in that sense you could say that they were very successful.

But if you're Iran looking at that, it seems to me the lesson you would take is, well, you know, it was a bit of a drag for these two countries for a while, but they, you know, withstood the pain of these sanctions, to the degree that there was pain -- for a country like India, it's not really clear to me that it was particularly painful -- and then India got this great strategic dialogue with Strobe Talbott as a result and is now one of America's best friends, and there is not a lot of talk about rolling back the Indian nuclear program any longer as there was prior to the nuclear tests. So it does show the limitation of (economic ?) sanctions.

TAKEYH: Let me just say one thing -- there's one thing about this. The type of sanctions that are contemplated, (a lot of ?) economic sanctions or diplomatic sanctions, travel bans and so on. In terms of if you look at Iran's investment portfolio, outside oil and gas structure, there isn't a whole lot of investment coming in. I mean, those sanctions were sort of imposed in June 2005, when Iran had a president who was openly contemptuous of foreign investments. He didn't want them. WTO concession, he rejected it.

So that doesn't create an investment climate hospitable to companies coming in. If you're a German pharmaceutical company and you're interested in investment in the Middle East, you don't look at Iran's investment climate as a place where you can an essentially go into. So, outside the oil and gas sector, there's already a lessening of investment potentially coming into Iran even absent of an international crisis; just the fact that it is a regime whose xenophobia is hostile to foreign investment. Just that.

Second of all, in terms of travel ban, I mean, after you deny the Holocaust, how many people are going to roll out the red carpet for you? I mean, where is Ahmadinejad going to travel? First of all, the statements he's made make him subject to legal sanction in France, Germany and Austria. He could be arrested in those three countries for denying the Holocaust. I mean, you know, so there isn't a whole lot of travel opportunities available --

MR. : Syria.

TAKEYH: -- not that he's particularly interested in traveling to anybody else. I mean, he goes to Syria. He might go to China at some point. He's expressed interest in it. He's been there before. He doesn't want to go London. He doesn't want to come to New York. And I think it's inconceivable that the United States will grant him a visa again to come to New York. And you know what, when you talk to Iranian diplomats, they say that's not a bad thing that there would be travel bans. I mean, if there's a travel ban on Ahmadinejad, I think Iranian diplomats are saying good.

MR. : There was a Security Council referral for North Korea in the early '90s, wasn't there?

MR. : There was.

MR. : ElBaradei's got a great line about this, which is: We're still waiting to hear back. (Laughter.)

MR. : That's right.

FEINSTEIN: And there was a reporting of the Libyan case, as opposed as a referral to the Security Council. I mean the idea behind it is that the treaty implementation agency or the U.N. body that has responsibility -- initial responsibility for an issue, says: We've done what we can, and now we -- with a referral, we're giving it to the Security Council, which has primary responsibility for issues of international peace and security. That's the traditional understanding of a referral is.

I actually think that Ray is right, the September IAEA resolution said that these issues were within the competency of the Security Council. Those are the buzz words that say it's a referral. So -- but if it's helpful for the Russians to use the "reporting" word, that's fine.

MR. : But hold on a second. This is a package deal that they worked out over dinner, and although they didn't say it was a referral, they did, unlike September, agree essentially on a deadline. They said it will happen in March, it won't happen right away. So what the Russians get is a month, while the U.S. is in the chair in the Security Council, to talk to the Iranians about it with the Chinese. And while, you know, I think the chances are the Russians are going to say in March, "We're making some progress. There's a serious dialogue and we just need a little bit more time," nevertheless, they haven't got the kind of open-ended understanding that this is just going to go on indefinitely, or that it's only a report not a referral. And the fact that there's this deadline puts some extra pressure on it. It means that if they can't show by March that something has happened, then we're on to the next stage and everybody has to kind of swallow hard and decide, okay, what do we do now?

I mean, I think you might discover that by March, the difference between "report" and "referral" just doesn't mean very much, if the Iranians have continued to stonewall.

MR. : Unless the Iranians want it to mean something, I mean, I think that's the point I was trying to make.

FEINSTEIN: I have two people -- Paul and Farah.

QUESTIONER: A question for Steve. In describing the Russian view of this, your first point was that the Russians do not want the Iranians to have the bomb. But from the rest of your points, it sounds like they don't care all that much; they maybe believe that their nuclear deterrent is sufficient to protect them if the Iranians do get the bomb.

SESTANOVICH: My view is that the Russians have a kind of fatalistic attitude about Iranian nuclear weapons. They expect that eventually the Iranians are going to get nuclear weapons, and since that's the case, why completely ruin your relationship with Iran?

(Cross talk.)

SESTANOVICH: Why, above all, be blamed for it?

On the other hand, they don't -- because they don't want to antagonize Iran, they've got some geopolitical and other stakes there, which incline them to think that maybe just keeping a good relationship there is more sensible, and you know, they don't really expect Moscow to be targeted. On the other hand, they don't want to antagonize the West, particularly at a time where it looks as though the U.S. and the Europeans are more united on this than at any point in the past few years.

So the costs for the Russians of being fatalists, as opposed to saying, "We can do this if we're all together," put enough pressure on them. Those costs are higher.

So they're -- the middle course is a more difficult one for them. Their diplomatic position looks great. They've managed to make themselves the -- you know, the party that everybody's got to come to if they want to deal. But if there is no deal, then they're in a difficult position. And right now it's not so clear how confident they should be that they can get either the U.S. or the Europeans to buy their solution or the Iranians'.

FEINSTEIN: Okay. Farah and also James.

QUESTIONER: We haven't talked that much about this idea of the whole Security Council referral backfiring and inspectors being kicked out. And this is the threat. I mean, Ambassador Bolton spoke to State Department reporters last week, and we asked him about this, and he said: Oh, well, you know, those inspectors don't know what's going on anyway in Iran. You know, basically we're already blind there, so it's not going to make a big difference. And it was kind of a, you know, very cavalier attitude that maybe, you know, the U.S. isn't afraid of this backfiring.

But you were talking about the black box and the -- so -- and you know, we know that --

SESTANOVICH (?): I think that was Charles, yeah.

QUESTIONER: -- we know the -- who know what happened in -- you know, the value of the inspectors in Iraq afterwards. And so I guess I was wondering if, you know, we could talk about, you know, does in fact the U.S. actually fear this? I mean, should they fear this?

And then the other question was, you know, is there basically nothing that could be -- you know, in your view, that could be offered to Iran that would be worth them giving up this program? I mean, you know, two years ago, there were CFR papers on engagement and, you know, you know, WTO and normalization. I mean, these are all things people were talking about. Are we basically at a point where we don't think there's anything that Iran would take?

SESTANOVICH (?): Well, more recently, too, I mean, talk about, you know, a "Nixon to China" move and stuff -- I mean, that's what some people --

FEINSTEIN: Charles, you were going to talk about black boxes?

FERGUSON: You know, the IAEA is kind of the best we have. You know, like Don Rumsfeld likes to say, we go to war with the Army we have. Well, we go to inspect nuclear facilities with the inspectors we have.

But you know, I think we should look at this as an opportunity. You know, Mr. Bolton was kind of denigrating the role of these inspectors, but you know, they're pretty limited in what they can do. And they're limited not because the IAEA has necessarily accepted those limits or proposed those limits on themselves; they're limited because of what the major powers had decided to empower the IAEA with. You know, if Mr. Bolton's not happy with the IAEA inspectors, he should work to try to give them greater access, improve their capabilities.

You know, it was said last year Mohamed ElBaradei said: Look, you know, the IAEA has a budget the size of the Washington Redskins football team payroll. You know, so -- (chuckles) -- do we care --

MR. : Is it a lot or a little sizable? (Laughter.)

FERGUSON: It's $120 million a year. And -- but you know, they have --

MR. : Who had a better year?

FERGUSON: Yeah. Right. (Laughter.)

They got 650 inspectors, more or less --

MR. : But Dan Snyder didn't get the Nobel Peace Prize. (Laughter.)

MR. : Yeah. The peace prize. That's right.

FERGUSON: And so you got what, 50-some football players and 650 inspectors, and they're trying to inspect 90-some facilities, extensive facilities in the -- in various countries in the world every year and are stretched thin.

QUESTIONER: But do you foresee, I mean, Iran carrying out this threat to kick out inspectors if they're referred? And if so, is there -- is that the end of the line as far as, you know, what can the response be? I mean --

FERGUSON: I can't predict whether they do that or not.

TAKEYH: Well, they --

FERGUSON: I mean, (I'd listen to ?) Ray's view on that. Yeah.

TAKEYH: The inspections are -- at this point are taking place under the auspices of the additional protocol, which is above Iran's obligations to the NPT. They're a voluntary assumption of responsibility. They can suspend -- voluntary -- they can suspend additional protocols without necessarily suspension -- the entire inspection process. It just means the inspection process is going to be less --

MR. : Yes. I guess that's clear and conditional -- right.

TAKEYH: -- less adroit, less intrusive, and less alert. That's what that would mean. So, I mean, the facilities will still remain under the safeguards, but they won't necessarily be under this fast-paced rapid inspection process. And the scope of the inspections will be more --

MR. : Sure.

TAKEYH: -- limited to declared nuclear facilities as opposed to military installations and so on that the IAEA wants to also inspect. So they can do that. That's what they have said in terms of incremental pressure that they will do.

MR. : Can I just add one thing to this? In 1998, when Saddam forced UNSCOM out -- he didn't actually kick them out, but he made it impossible for them to stay there and say that they were doing anything useful -- he knew that the P-5 were divided. And they -- you know, the resolutions that had been passed at that point had the Russians and the Chinese abstaining. And right now the Iranians could still decide to kick everybody out. But they don't have the comfort level that comes from seeing demonstrated divisions in the P-5. I think the chances are they would have to expect a very, very negative reaction at this point. And, you know, they may just have to take that chance. But the message that they're getting from last night is the cost of doing that has just gone up -- and the risk.


QUESTIONER: I'm just -- like to lay on the table the question, and whoever wants to address it is -- to try to discern what you think the Bush strategy is here. And given what you're -- you discern is their strategy, is it a smart one? Because it seems to me that there is -- you know, we saw with Iraq how they acted when they really were determined to take this thing to its end point and then to see, you know, what cracks and who blinks.

You talk to the Pentagon, they don't want this confrontation now. They don't want this confrontation, which would lead you to assume they'd be for trying to kick the ball down the -- down the -- can down the road. This seems to me to have shortened the leash a little bit by elevating it to the Security Council and seeing who's going to break as far as unity. So could you all take a crack at what you think the strategy is behind it, and is it a very effective one in terms of -- you know, it's a -- obviously not a lot of great options here, but I'm just curious what people are thinking about, is this a smart way to go?

FEINSTEIN: Let me also ask Paul, why don't we get Paul's question in as well?

QUESTIONER: Okay. This is sort of more of a technical question, I think directed at Charles. My understanding is that, really, in terms of the Iranian threat, what the United States and everyone else is worried about is that Iran will develop expertise through conducting R&D on enrichment. And not so much that they're going to use safeguarded facilities, because, you know the CIA has said that those -- that they can't do it, essentially, without getting caught. And it seems to me that the choke point essentially is whether they can, you know, hide -- hide facilities that the IAEA can't find. And I've heard all the arguments as to why it's relatively easy to hide centrifuge facilities. But the question I have is, can you hide a conversion facility without getting caught?

FEINSTEIN: Why don't you do that first, and then --

MR. : Yeah --

FEINSTEIN: -- all of us will want to comment on the wisdom of the American approach, and feel free to do that as well, Charles.

FERGUSON: And Paul, I think, as you know, I mean, you get -- you've looked at the technical aspects of this, and it's come out through the IAEA reports, Iran has tried other approaches to enrich uranium --

MR. : Right.

FERGUSON: -- using lasers and -- in its -- that can work, and it's far from being proven. I mean, the U.S. abandoned their laser enrichment program seven years ago. But it's conceivable, you could fit that inside a warehouse and that would be relatively easy to hide. And I think maybe a small-scale conversion plant may be on -- a rough order of magnitude that size, what I've been reading in technical literature. So conceivably you could hide that, too.

I think you're exactly right. And that's why I brought up my concerns about the Russia deal as it may be shaping out, that Iran could be learning R&D through this deal and then applying it through some clandestine way.

FEINSTEIN: Why don't we just go around the circle. Steve, did you want to comment on the American approach for Iran?

TAKEYH: Well, look. It seems to me that the U.S. approach is not that dissimilar to the EU-3 approach of the past couple of years, past two and a half years; namely, that you invoke threats of referrals and prospects of pressure as a means of gaining Iranian capitulation. And this is a strategy with some precedent of success. In two and a half years, there were two agreements, October 2003, November 2004, agreement between the Iranians and the Europeans, and every time the Iranians essentially threatened to withdraw from those agreements, the Europeans threatened to essentially go to the Security Council or what have you, and that yielded Iranian acquiescence.

The question is, can this process continue to yield Iranian acquiescence? I think the United States can probably multilateralize some of these pressure points, but I don't necessarily believe -- and I say that with some degree of hesitation -- that that's going to affect the fundamentals of Iran's nuclear trajectory. I think they can slow down, they can speed up, but I think there's a sort of decision made that we will develop this program to the uppermost limits of the NPT, which are fairly far.

And the position that the Iranians are making is a fairly legalistic one -- namely, that this is the treaty and we are signatories of this treaty, we have certain rights under that treaty, and we understand we have certain obligations, as well. We're willing to discharge the obligations, but we have to also incur the rights. It's a fairly legalistic argument that is bedded closely to the treaty. That's why I don't think they'll kick the inspectors out, and that's why I don't think they'll unnecessarily antagonize the IAEA, because their position is that these are essentially rights that we have, the rights other countries enjoy, and so on and so forth. You can dispute what Article 4 means and how those ambiguities are going to be specified and so forth, but essentially it's a fairly legal, treaty-based position that they have. And if -- as I said, the treaty is not going to be revised and readjusted for one country. If there's going to be revisions of the treaty, then it has to be in a politically neutral way, as ElBaradei's proposal for suspension of enrichments.

So I think they're determined to develop this program within the flexible confines of the NPT and sort of make the decision at that time where you go after that. That's why I don't necessarily think that sort of an application of the type of pressure that the United States is contemplating and capable of putting on Iran are going to alter that determination, alter it in a permanent way, at least.

MS. : Lee -- I'm sorry -- if you could also just speak to Farah's second question about possible incentives and carrots, such as those suggested in the CFR task force report in terms of strategy.


SESTANOVICH: Well, I think, as difficult as we have made it seem to see down the road where this leads, you have to give the administration credit for conducting a very successful multilateral process here. And if you think back to the difficulty that they had actually generating multilateral support with respect to Iraq, this is -- this looks like the playbook that was revised on the basis of that failure, with one exception. People who said you should have spent more time building a real coalition on Iraq weren't ruling the idea that you would use force at some point. Most people here seem to believe you don't have that club in reserve, so that if multilateralism -- (inaudible) -- the ultimate sanction, and we're going to see how that works, I think the expectation of most people around the table would probably be the Iranians have a lot more options to call the bluff of multilateralism here. But it's still been, multilateralism, pretty well executed.

FEINSTEIN: But what I would say is that in the first administration, the administration's strategy with respect to Iran was to do nothing, and that is that -- because to engage with the regime or to be involved in a negotiating or diplomatic strategy was somehow to legitimize the regime, as well as the nuclear program in some way, and that any agreement that might actually be produced as a result of these negotiations would not be worth the paper they were written on.

And Security Council referral on that context during the first administration was not a plan for action, it was a plan for inaction; it was not really an active option in terms of dealing with the Iran issue, particularly while the EU-3 negotiations were taking place.

Now, in the second administration, the administration's plan is to do something. And the reason they have to do something is primarily because of the changes in Iran, although to a certain extent this predated it. It also has to do with the problems that the United States is having in Iraq, and the United States doesn't want Iran to intrude.

The difference between the Security Council taking up the issue of Iraq and the Security Council taking up the issue with Iran, from the American perspective, is that the United States wants this process to work, whereas at least with respect to the second referral concerning Iraq, the United States was enthusiastic about -- or didn't feel it was necessary to get the Security Council's acquiescence.

So what the administration has done successfully, I think as Steve has said, is taken an idea and put forward without any intention of acting on it, which was Security Council referral in the first term, and making it actionable in the second term. And now I think its job is going to be to use whatever momentum it gains from that to multilateralize the policy, take it out of the context of the Security Council and pursue a diplomatic approach, maybe not entirely unlike the six-party talk approach that the administration has pursued with North Korea.

QUESTIONER: What do you gain, then, by getting it to the Security Council? I really don't understand what they have achieved. If you're going to get it out of there as soon as you get it in there --

FEINSTEIN: Well, they said they wanted to do it, so then they had to do it. So that's the first thing. That is that they were able to make good on what they said they were going to do, and that demonstrates a certain degree of strength from the U.S. position. And as Steve, I think, has said extremely well, it also shows P-5 solidarity that didn't exist before, that I think nobody would have imagined existed right now.

MR. : Let me just say --

SESTANOVICH: Well, I'd one other thing, too, because I don't think -- I disagree a little bit with Lee about how you just pop into the Security Council for a quick -- you know, for a cup of coffee and then pop out. What you pop out with is, presumably, a resolution that says Iran has got to live up to its obligations or else. And there will be a lot of, you know, U.N. specialized lingo here to convey the -- you know, how seriously this is taken. But if you ended up with a resolution that was unanimous, that talked about Chapter 7, that made all kinds of ominous noises, it would be a real step forward. It would not just be, you know, a diplomatic stopover with nothing accomplished.

QUESTIONER: Couldn't it be more than just ominous noises? I mean, can't it actually be referred back to the IAEA with instructions of --

(Cross talk.)

FEINSTEIN: I think -- I would be surprised if you saw a Chapter 7 reference in the Security Council statement that comes out after February 2nd.

SESTANOVICH: It can be one step at a time. But it's not that there's no result here. You have a -- presumably the bar will be set in some way --

QUESTIONER: So it is an accomplishment, you think, to get unanimity to elevate a Security Council -- that was a useful first step to ratcheting up the pressure? Even if you don't want to go to sanctions, you know --

FEINSTEIN : Well, if you end up with whatever result completely supported by the P-5, that's different from where you were just a few months ago.

MR. : Just returned to the --

MR. : And I don't know that you will. It may be that the Russians and the Chinese will, you know, abstain. But if you ended up with all five voting together --

TAKEYH: The original question was --

FEINSTEIN: Okay, and, Ray, this is the last one.


TAKEYH: -- was, and Steve said this -- the U.S. administration diplomacy has been successful. It's been successful, Steve, because it is multilateral and without sacrifice. You haven't asked anybody to do anything. You just asked them to transfer the file from one international organization to the other one. The time will come when the United States will ask Russia to put a strategic and commercial relationship with Iran at stake. And Germany --

MR. : And the EU --

TAKEYH: -- or the Germans -- then -- then -- that's when you separate the adroit diplomats from the not so imaginative ones, right.

FEINSTEIN: Well, thank you, everybody. We'll stay around for a few minutes to ask anybody for any further questions, but this has been a very enjoyable hour-plus. Thanks very much.

MR. : Thank you.

MR. : And there'll be a transcript of this posted on the --

STAFF: There will be a transcript, probably posted the day after tomorrow. I'll send that around to all of you.








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