f_0018635_15959 - Nuclear Iran is Not an Option: A New...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Nuclear Iran is Not an Option: A New Negotiating Strategy to Prevent Iran from Developing Nuclear Weapons by Alon Ben-Meir T HE N ATURE OF US-I RAN R ELATIONS T he relationship between the United States and Iran has increasingly been deteriorating, especially since Tehran began to flex its muscles following the Iraq war in 2003 and continues with its insistence on maintaining its uranium enrichment program. Both sides have grievances against each other that date back to the 1979 Iranian Revolution and beyond. The lack of understanding demonstrated by both sides—of the other’s national psyche, history, religion, culture and strategic interests—has compounded the problems and hampered any tangible progress. The Bush Administration’s refusal to negotiate directly with Tehran and its preoccupation with Iraq has played to the advantage of the clergy, allowing them time for nuclear advancement with impunity. From the Iranian perspective, decades of being abused by Western powers— especially the United States—came to an end with the Islamic revolution. Ironically, the Bush Administration’s decision to topple Saddam Hussein has ended America’s dual containment policy of Iraq and Iran. In effect, this has left Tehran to claim the spoils of the Iraq war. They moved swiftly to take advantage of the chaotic war conditions, exploiting their close ties to the Iraqi leaders and entrenching themselves in most of Iraq’s social, economic, and political spheres. Although many Iranians feel stifled and isolated by their government, they still view the Islamic revolution as something that has freed them from Western bondage and set them on a historical journey to greatness. The Iranian leaders are determined to assert themselves in the region, especially now that their country has become a substantial player in the oil market. The pursuit of a nuclear program is a symbol of the government’s newly found power and a means by which it can enhance its regional leadership, if not the country’s regional hegemony. The government feels confident it can continue to do Alon Ben-Meir is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Affairs in New York University and teaches courses on the Middle East and international negotiations. 77
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BEN-MEIR The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations so in defiance of the international community while paying only a minimal price. As a signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 1 , Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, but must do so under the strict guidelines of the International Atomic and Energy Agency (IAEA). However, the government has failed to fully comply with the NPT provisions and has been unwilling to comply with efforts to settle the impasse over its nuclear program. 2
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f_0018635_15959 - Nuclear Iran is Not an Option: A New...

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