The Global Community's Four Concerns About Iran
The German Marshall Fund - Brussels Forum 2010
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama called for engagement with America's adversaries. It was perhaps the most significant shift in his foreign policy stance vis-a-vis not only his predecessor but also the then-prevailing conventional wisdom in Washington. As president, he has implemented that pledge and worked to engage Iran. That policy shift has helped solidify a transatlantic consensus on how to approach Tehran.But will it work? And what are the consequences if it does not—for Iran, for the region, and also for transatlantic ties? The picture has been further complicated by the Green Revolution in Iran last year. On one hand, that revolution raised the prospect of internal political change and the question whether that might alter Iran's strategic trajectory and thinking about its nuclear program. However, the revolution’s bloody crushing only underscored that the authorities in Tehran will not abandon power without a fight, and that while political change will come, it may not do so on a timeline that eases the West's dilemma on how to confront Iran's nuclear program. In the mean time, the revelation of Iran's covert nuclear activities in Qom, its declared intention to enrich uranium to higher levels, and its progress in developing its space-launching capabilities remind us that the Iranian nuclear program marches forward.Can the West still lay the groundwork for a successful, peaceful strategy to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons? Or will 2010 become the year when the world started to accept the reality of a nuclear Iran? Should all options remain on the table in order to prevent from Iran a nuclear bomb, including a military strike? Or would a preemptive attack only delay Iranian nuclear ambitious--at the best case--and possibly spark a regional war at the worst case?