A New Strategy on Iran

(Washington Post) Dennis Ross - If Iran succeeds in developing a nuclear weapons capability, in all likelihood we will face a nuclear Middle East. The Saudis - fearing an emboldened Iran determined to promote Shiite subversion in the Arabian Peninsula - will seek their own nuclear capability, and probably already have a deal with Pakistan to provide it should Iran pose this kind of threat. And don't expect Egypt to be content with Saudi Arabia's being the only Arab country with a nuclear "deterrent." As for those who think that the nuclear deterrent rules that governed relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War will also apply in a nuclear Middle East: Don't be so confident. The possible number of nuclear countries will drive up the potential for miscalculation. And with an Iranian president who sees himself as an instrument for accelerating the coming of the 12th Imam - which is preceded in the mythology by the equivalent of Armageddon - one should not take comfort in thinking that Iran will act responsibly. The challenge remains one of changing the Iranian calculus. Iran must see that it either loses more than it gains by proceeding to move toward nuclear weapons or that it can gain more by giving up the effort. Why not have the president go to his British, French and German counterparts and say: Let us agree on an extensive set of meaningful - not marginal - economic and political sanctions that we will impose if the negotiations fail.

2006-05-01 00:00:00

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