Iran's Nuclear Aspirations
Saturday, July 3, 2004; Page A26
"Failed Preemption" [editorial, June 18] said that Europe's diplomatic attempt to "preempt" Iran's nuclear program "is proving feckless" in light of Iran's failure to cooperate. But that ignored a couple of key questions.
First, didn't Washington's inclusion of Iran in the "axis of evil" and pursuit of a preemptive strategy against Iraq prompt Iran to accelerate its efforts to obtain a nuclear deterrent against the United States?
Second, given that several of its neighbors have nuclear weapons, is it reasonable to expect Iran to renounce the capacity to build such weapons and to place its security in the hands of an illusory "international community"?
JOHN L. HARPER
In his June 17 op-ed column, "Challenge from Iran," Jim Hoagland called for fresh thinking on the crisis concerning Iran's uranium-enrichment program.
A pragmatic approach would be to permit Iran to keep its 1,000-centrifuge pilot plant while requiring it to give up plans for a larger 50,000-centrifuge commercial facility. This arrangement would allow Tehran to maintain its technology base and would satisfy international concerns that Iran not acquire a substantial uranium-enrichment capacity.
Brent Scowcroft's June 24 op-ed article, "A Critical Nuclear Moment," offered an apparently reasonable solution to the confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program. He suggested that the United States, together with Russia and the European Union, offer to supply Iran with nuclear fuel for its energy needs with the understanding that Iran must return the spent fuel. Unfortunately, such a bold offer would not be sufficient to produce the breakthrough that Mr. Scowcroft desires.
Iran guards its sovereignty, and its nuclear program is popular because it promises the country greater independence at a time when it feels under siege. Iran is pursuing a full fuel cycle so that it can make its own decisions about its nuclear destiny. It does not want to rely on the goodwill of Russia, the E.U. or the United States in providing fuel for its reactors.
The United States will not be able to end the confrontation with Iran if it treats the nuclear program as an isolated issue. If it wants to persuade Iran to abandon a full fuel cycle, the two countries will have to discuss a range of issues -- Iraq, sanctions, Israel, Hezbollah, al Qaeda -- that are relevant to Iran's sense of sovereignty. "Generous offers" on a single issue are not sufficient.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company