Although everyone has displayed a cautious response to the latest meeting between Iran and the international negotiators, we can see significant signs that, for the first time, give hope that agreement may be reached to end the crisis which reached a crossroads. According to public statements, the Iranians have made important concessions and have for the first time agreed to enrich uranium aboard. It is to be recalled that this was the very same proposal that the Saudis had proposed at the beginning of the year but which the Iranians turned down. Uranium enrichment outside of Iran would secure the Iranians the fuel they need, and would dispel suspicion that Iran may produce nuclear fuel behind the back of the IAEA.
Is Iran’s latest stance a new subterfuge for marking time after years of prevarication, or has Iran realized, after its secret nuclear facility in Qom was uncovered, that the countries concerned have become more resolved to punish it? We should consider matters from a rational angle even though this way of thinking repeatedly proved a failure in the past, whether with Iran, with the former Iraqi regime, or with other states. The evident facts at present emphasize that unless Iran cooperates with the international community, it will meet the same end as Saddam’s: a painful economic boycott followed by military action which will be very costly to the Iranian regime. The very recent history shows that some do not learn from painful past lessons.
We hope that the latest flexibility displayed by the Iranian negotiators will lead to an end to the dispute and avert confrontation, which, I believe, will be inevitable unless Iran gives up its military nuclear program.
Another possible motive behind the surprise concessions Iran has made, if they are truly serious concessions, is the domestic Iranian situation which has completely changed the Iranian leadership’s calculations. The Iranian leadership previously said, and this was true, that it would go ahead with its nuclear program and that the Iranian people stood united behind it. Today, however, Iranian leader Ahmadinejad cannot claim any popular support for any plan he may propose. Given the current serious split between the Iranian leadership and people, the Iranian people will blame Ahmadinejad in any battle that may erupt in the future, be it economic or military.
This is how things may proceed if Iran considers its situation objectively. It would be better for Iran to make concessions now and to sign agreement that will give it some of the promised economic benefits and that will end the boycott which has exhausted Iran over the past 30 years. In this case, Iran would lose its nuclear bomb, but would at the same time get quite a few benefits from ending the crisis. I tend to believe that Iran will take this approach, particularly because of its domestic situation. I heard from someone who recently met with Ahamdinejad, and who heard him unequivocally admit that these were the most difficult days of his life. He meant the confrontations that followed the elections, the doubts raised about his winning the election, and the major divisions among the Iranians over him. True, these are the most difficult days in the life of the entire Iranian regime. Any miscalculation might be far more catastrophic than all we have seen.