Iran deal rejected, and more sanctions

 In Iran

As a prelude to the passage of a new round of sanctions, on Wednesday diplomats from the U.S., Russia and France dismissed the nuclear swap deal negotiated by Iran, Turkey and Brazil. A few hours later, a fourth round of U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran passed 12 to 2 (Turkey and Brazil against and Lebanon abstained.) These developments dash any hope of using Iran’s offer as a platform for diplomatic progress.

The three diplomats familiar with the replies said they contain a series of questions that in effect stall any negotiations on the issue — and generally diminish any chance of talks because they present Tehran with indirect demands that it is not ready to meet.

The nations cited flaws in the deal, such as the fact that Iran would continue its uranium enrichment program. However, the U.S., Russia and France are missing the larger picture, and it’s a shame.

No one, certainly not on this blog, has argued that the deal Iran offered was without flaw. It was however widely seen as offering a way out of a tense stalemate. Last week, a prominent group of non-proliferation and Iran experts, including Former weapons inspector David Kay, and former Under Secretary of State Tom Pickering, released a statement urging the superpowers to reconsider the deal as a platform for broader dialogue with Iran:

“If enacted, this proposal would begin the process of addressing a major — but not the only — aspect of the strained relationship between Iran and the international community, and would represent a first step in halting Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapons capability.

We urge the so-called Vienna Group (Russia, France, the United States, and the IAEA) to seriously pursue this proposal as an opening for further diplomatic engagement with Iran on outstanding issues of concern.”

By rejecting the deal and doubling down on more of the sanctions that have already failed to deliver, the US and its allies have likely turned potential progress into several steps back. As we have argued many times before, sanctions and belligerence in the US only help the hardliners in Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that the deal was a “one-time opportunity,” and that “If the US and its allies think they could hold the stick of sanctions and then sit and negotiate with us, they are seriously mistaken.”

If diplomacy fails, there are simply no good options to resolve US differences with Iran. If Americans want to prevent a confrontation with Iran, we need to be speaking up now.

Rebecca Glass contributed to this post.

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