Mar 15, 2014
With Iran, Obama Needs More Carrot, Less Stick
Posted on Nov 13, 2008
By Scott Ritter
If Obama wants to resolve the ongoing debacle that is Iraq, he would be well advised to recognize that Sadr controls more Iraqi citizens than does the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. In fact, if he’s serious about ending the violence and establishing long-term stability, Obama would do well to exploit Iran’s deep and meaningful contacts with these three organizations with an eye toward integrating them into the mainstream of their respective domestic political environments. Referring to these organizations as being “terrorist” in nature is not only factually simplistic, but also counterproductive when it comes to establishing and maintaining the kind of dialogue that can result in the diplomatic breakthroughs Barack Obama claims to be seeking. Perhaps the president-elect should take his own counsel: He went on to state, “Obviously, how we approach and deal with a country like Iran is not something that we should, you know, simply do in a knee-jerk fashion. I think we’ve got to think it through.”
It would be ideal for a more intrusive inspection regime, based on what the IAEA calls an “additional protocol,” to be formalized and implemented. This should not be an insurmountable hurdle for progress. Iran has already indicated a willingness to engage in such an expanded inspection regime, contingent upon international recognition of its rights under Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium. Obama has spoken of a need for an effective global nonproliferation regime, but this can never happen if the United States shows disrespect for international law and past agreements. The United States’ hypocritical indifference toward the military nuclear programs of non-NPT nations such as Israel, India and Pakistan undermines the administration’s current stance concerning the NPT-compliant Iran.
While the specifics of any ballistic missile-based negotiation would have to be worked out between the involved parties, a reasonable starting point would be a one-year moratorium on all ballistic missile tests of a given range (for instance, over 500 kilometers), in exchange for which the United States would support and sponsor a regional multilateral Middle Eastern disarmament conference, the goal of which would be a treaty for the elimination of all long-range ballistic missiles in the Middle East. This would be complicated, especially since such a treaty would by necessity need to include Israel. However, given the alternative (continued confrontation with Iran, and the global instability that would result), the difficulties associated with any such disarmament effort are far outweighed by the consequences of doing nothing. Furthermore, a Middle East ballistic missile disarmament effort could serve as the framework around which other regional disarmament efforts could be shaped, including those related to Pakistan and India, and even the United States, Russia and China. It would require the leadership of the United States to pull off any such effort. This should be the kind of leadership challenge an Obama administration should be seeking to embrace.
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