Time to Take It to Iran

(Politico) Dennis Ross, Eric Edelman and Ray Takeyh - The nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran appear stalemated. Meanwhile, Iran is on the march in the Middle East with its forces supporting the coup in Yemen, buttressing the Assad war-machine in Syria, mediating between factions in Iraq, and plotting with Hizbullah on the periphery of Israel. Our friends in the region perceive Iran as galloping across the region. During the course of the nuclear negotiations over the past year, Iran has been the beneficiary of a generous catalogue of concessions from the West, which has conceded to Iranian enrichment and agreed that Tehran need not scale back the number of its centrifuges significantly or dismantle any facilities and could have an industrial-size program after passage of a period of time. Khamenei's negotiators are pressing for more concessions while not offering any of their own. Hence it is time to acknowledge that we need a revamped coercive strategy, one that threatens Iran's influence in the Middle East and its standing at home. And the pattern of concessions at the negotiating table must stop if there is to be an acceptable agreement. Iranian officials must come to understand that there will be no further concessions to reach an accord and that time is running out for negotiations. Iran needs to see that we are not so concerned about reaching a deal on the nuclear issue that we are indifferent to its behavior in the region. Along these lines, the U.S. should consider a political warfare campaign against Tehran to complement its economic sanctions policy. The administration officials and its broadcast services should draw attention to the unsavory nature of the theocratic regime and its repressive behavior. American diplomats should not be afraid to walk away from the table and even suspend the talks should they continue to meet an unyielding Iran. They need to clearly signal that we don't need an agreement as much as they do and that we are prepared to create conditions for international support for increased pressure. Dennis Ross served as a special assistant to President Obama from 2009 to 2011. Eric Edelman served as undersecretary of defense during the George W. Bush administration. Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

2015-01-26 00:00:00

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