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"A U.S.-Iran Deal Would Allow Enrichment for Non-Weapons Pledge"

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, who has been appointed by the Iranian President as interim Foreign Minister, leaves a Foreign Ministry function, Dec. 18, 2010.
AP Photo

"A U.S.-Iran Deal Would Allow Enrichment for Non-Weapons Pledge"

Op-Ed, New Perspectives Quarterly

January 12, 2011

Author: Kayhan Barzegar, Former Associate, Project on Managing the Atom/International Security Program, 2010–2011; Former Research Fellow, Project on Managing the Atom/international Security Program, 2007–2010

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy



This op-ed was reprinted as "The US is Wrong about Iran. Cutting a Deal is the Only Win-Win Solution" by the Christian Science Monitor on January 14, 2011.


While "confidence-building" is the most important factor in the course of any nuclear negotiations which hope to succeed between Iran and the P5+1 group, the United States is talking about a new round of coercive sanctions against Iran. The U.S. objective in continuing the "sanctions for negotiations" policy aims at weakening the "nuclear consensus" inside Iran. However, if successful, this policy would have the reverse result, since the unraveling of the nuclear consensus that now exists within Iran would halt any progress on the diplomatic front.

For Iran, maintaining the capacity for "independent uranium enrichment" on its own soil means acquisition of a nuclear "capability." This endeavor is based on an important strategic objective around which all political blocs agree: the acceptance of Iran as a "nuclear state" by world powers. This consensus is a powerful, unassailable domestic reality that cannot be reversed. No political group in Iran today, reformist or otherwise, would dream of demanding the suspension of uranium enrichment.

Against the grain of this consensus, the U.S. has sought the suspension of any uranium enrichment capacity by Iran. This inflexible policy differs from the views held by the other P5+1 countries, namely the EU trio, Russia and China. These powers have gradually come to agree with Iran's right to enrichment on its native soil. In the Geneva negotiations last December, this right was implicitly accepted by all parties, including by the United States, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted just before the negotiations got under way.

Despite this, the U.S. seems bent on trying to overturn that consensus both internationally and within Iran....

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For Academic Citation:

Barzegar, Kayhan. "A U.S.-Iran Deal Would Allow Enrichment for Non-Weapons Pledge." New Perspectives Quarterly, January 12, 2011.

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