The United States has reached an impasse in trying to stop Iran from proceeding with its nuclear program. Iran has repeatedly ignored UN Security Council resolutions calling on it to suspend its uranium enrichment activities that could either fuel peaceful nuclear reactors or military nuclear bombs.
In recent weeks, Iran’s talks with the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency have been pretenses that have allowed Iran to move ahead with uranium enrichment with no additional controls on its overall nuclear program.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration has tried to ratchet up pressure on Iran with sanctions. And more recently, during the week of the Democratic presidential convention, Sen. Barack Obama reiterated that he is committed to “tightening the screws diplomatically on Iran” if elected.
Even if Iran at times toys with accepting a temporary suspension of its uranium enrichment program, it does not appear to intend to stop this potentially dangerous activity—regardless of sanctions.
Clearly, a new approach is needed to put in place stricter controls on Iran’s nuclear program and to respect Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear activities.
Tough talk and Iranian defiance have left the world worrying about possible itchy trigger fingers in Israel. The Israeli military could try a replay of the 1981 operation that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor. But this time the odds are stacked against destroying an Iranian nuclear infrastructure that is scattered among more than 20 facilities and has employed thousands of technicians.
The solution? A loyalty test can reassure both sides. Nuclear negotiators need to understand that Iranian leaders want to maintain loyalty to the promise they made to the Iranian public to uphold Iran’s right to uranium enrichment.