The Iranian nuclear weapons issue and the ongoing quest to find a diplomatic solution to the impasse will have profound consequences for regional and global stability. A tangled web of issues, besides the non-proliferation issue will determine the calculus of how this crisis unfolds: the war in Iraq and its aftermath, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the heightening tensions between the West and Islam, access to oil and the alarming increase in terrorism. Consequently, the stakes for resolving this diplomatic deadlock are not only high but also have far-reaching implications for international peace and security.
Although there is no easy way of deterring Iran’s nuclear ambitions, creative diplomatic engagement from all parties could lead to a successful solution. In “The End of the Non-Proliferation Regime?,” Perkovich maintains that “the fundamental requirement today is to establish a basis for cooperation between the most powerful state- the United States – and the others, without which proliferation problems cannot be solved.” When designing their diplomatic engagement strategy, the United States ought to accept Iran as a regional power with legitimate interests. In this paper, I argue that by altering relations between the US and Iran and opening the dialogue to address their broader underlying differences, a solution to the nuclear weapons issue may materialize.
Even though the European Union, Russia and China also all have divergent interests inregards to this issue, it is important for them to work within the multi-lateral framework of the United Nations Security Council to pressure Iran to cooperate. Since the efficiency of such a sanctioning regime is not sustainable in the long run, the focus ought to be on diplomatic engagement. As IAEA Director General Dr. Mohammed El-Baradei emphasized in his comments at the most recent Board of Governors meeting in Vienna: “A durable solution requires confidence about Iran’s nuclear programme; it requires a regional security arrangement; it requires normal trade relations between Iran and the international community. As the Security Council stated, the ultimate aim should be the normalization of relations between Iran and the international community.”
By examining the multitude of factors that continue to fuel the Iranian nuclear weapons conflict, this study will focus on the underlying issues that require critical examination in order for constructive diplomatic efforts to succeed. Chapter I highlights the history of the Iran nuclear program and its evolution to its current phase. Chapter II focuses on Iran’s rights under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the reasons for its non-compliance as a party to the treaty. Chapter III examines the role of the United Nations Security Council as the ultimate enforcer of the NPT and its efforts to pressure Iran into compliance through the implementation of graduated sanctions. Chapter IV underscores the importance of the commitment to multilateralism in dealing with the Iranian case and chronicles the inherent dangers of a unilateral agenda when using force against Iran outside the parameters of the U.N. Charter. Chapter V presents a picture of the current geo-political climate in the Middle East, the prospects for diplomatic solutions and proposals, the parties involved ought to consider once they are committed to making positive strides in the diplomatic sphere.
Saeb Sal Kasm is currently a consultant at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. He was also a lecturer at the Department of Political Science, University of California, Irvine.
The views expressed in this thesis have been provided in the author's personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNODC or the United Nations in general.
Related Material from the Atlantic Community:
- Antonio Buttitta: Implications of a Nuclear Iran
- Frank O'Donnell: Watching the Clock
- Andreas Michael Bock:Iran and the NPT: "Some Animals are more equal than others"