January 30th, 2014
11:24 PM ET

On Iran, compromise is needed

By Fareed Zakaria

Iran’s officials are determined not to accept any constraints on their program. They speak often about the importance of being treated like any other country that has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which to them means having the unfettered right to enrich uranium to produce electricity. In fact, the treaty says nothing about enrichment activities specifically. Many countries with nuclear power plants do not enrich but others do, which allows Iran to claim, reasonably, that enrichment has so far been a permitted activity. The only criterion the treaty lays out is that all nuclear production must be “for peaceful purposes.”

The American vision of the final deal is quite different and stems from the notion that Iran must take special steps to provide confidence that its program is peaceful. It would allow Iran to enrich some small, symbolic amount of uranium, up to a 5 percent level (a point at which it remains time-consuming to achieve weapons-grade levels). Beyond that, Tehran would dismantle thousands of its existing centrifuges and shut down its heavy-water reactor. Washington wants to lengthen the lead time between a civilian and military program.

Both sides will have to think hard about their core concerns.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Iran

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    The compromise will be that Iran and the US give diplomacy a chance to succeed. Sceptics in the Congress have to refrain from pushing for fresh sanctions on Tehran and Iran's leaders ought to seize this opportunity to convince the international community, that they are not intent on building nuclear weapons.

    January 31, 2014 at 10:04 am |
    • j. von hettlingen

      Despite the supreme leader's assertion that Islam is "opposed to nuclear weapons", and the joined charm offensive of his Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani in the West, the hardliners within the Revolutionary Guard and the establishment aren't ready to give up their nuclear dream. The West is receptive to Iran's olive branch. Nevertheless the US and its allies in the Middle East are determined to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
      That UN inspectors have increased their activity in Iran as part of efforts to verify the deal is a good start. The coming months are crucial for trust building – mutually.

      January 31, 2014 at 10:05 am |
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