Authors: William Luers, Iris Bieri, and Priscilla Lewis
It is time for Washington to rebalance its dual-track policy toward Iran, strengthening the diplomatic track in order to seize the opportunity created by the pressure track. The United States should now dedicate as much energy and creativity to negotiating directly with Iran as it has to assembling a broad international coalition to pressure and isolate Iran. Only by taking such a rebalanced approach might the United States achieve its objectives with respect to Iran's nuclear program.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei gave his annual message on the occasion of the Persian New Year, or Norouz, on March 20, 2013. He calls this "The Year of Political and Economic Valor" and encourages Iranians to buy products made in Iran because of current economic sanctions.
Asked by Aaron Marks, from Staten Island, New York
Since the discovery of illicit Iranian nuclear facilities in 2002, the United States has sought to mobilize an international coalition to address the Iranian nuclear challenge through various coercions and incentives. UN member states agree that Iran is entitled to a civilian nuclear program for purposes of energy generation, but they require assurances that such a program is not going to be misused for military purposes.
World powers are now offering to ease sanctions on Iran if it agrees to halt its most sensitive nuclear activity. Expert Daryl Kimball urges a full diplomatic press to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear weapons line.
People love to talk about "red lines" for all sorts of challenges, and the Iranian nuclear program is no exception. The United States can, in principle, threaten stronger sanctions if Iran crosses certain red lines. It can threaten military action if Iran crosses others. But it's not clear that setting red lines—particularly in public, where failing to follow through on threats can be costly—is a productive course.
In recent years, the strategic alliance between Iran and Hezbollah has grown to the point where the Lebanese militant group's fealty to Tehran is paramount, a dynamic currently on display in Syria, says counterterrorism expert Matthew Levitt.
In the nuclear dispute between Iran and the United States, a grand bargain is unlikely given the level of mistrust between the two parties. What's more realistic is a modest compromise that breaches the wall of mistrust and potentially sets the stage for further-reaching arms control measures, says Ray Takeyh.
Ray Takeyh says, "Ali Khamenei may not want a deal with America, but increasingly he cannot afford not to have one. Ironically, a more circumscribed agreement that allows him to sustain the essential character of his nuclear program and his slogans of resistance may be his path out of the dilemma of his own creation."
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