Letter to the Editor

Nuclear deal and Iran

Friday, March 6, 2015

Except for the citizens of Iran and their allies, no one wants that country to acquire nuclear weapons. In simplest terms, there are two approaches in dealing with the government in Tehran.

First, the administration position calls for a long-term agreement with Iran that limits enrichment to low levels, allows for intrusive inspections and would gradually ease some sanctions if Iran sticks with the program.

Opponents of the administration take the position that the United States should not negotiate an agreement that allows limited enrichment, but should try to get Iran to stop all uranium enrichment by imposing new sanctions.

Insisting that Iran end all domestic enrichment is understandable given its past behavior. Additionally the permanent end to enrichment activities would make a final settlement easier to verify. But it would also reduce to almost zero the chances of a final agreement acceptable to Iranian leaders. The Iranian regime has banked its domestic legitimacy on asserting Iran's inalienable nuclear rights in the face of international pressure.

As such, insisting on an optimal deal would likely result in no deal, making either a nuclear-armed Iran or a military confrontation with that country probable.

The most important goal should be to prevent Iran from developing actual nuclear weapons, not to stop it from obtaining a vague capability that could include many activities technically permitted under the Non Proliferation Treaty. If Iran verifiably ends its weaponization work, and operates strictly within the confines of this treaty, those actions should be considered sufficient.

JOHN PIEPHO, Cape Girardeau