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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Perkovich: If Iran Stone-Walls, Stop Trying to Negotiate

Council on Foreign Relations

Interviewee: George R. Perkovich, Vice President for Studies, director of Non-Proliferation Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor

September 24, 2008

George Perkovich, a long-time expert on Iran's nuclear program, says the United States and its negotiating partners should set a deadline for Iran to agree to negotiations on suspending its nuclear enrichment program. If Iran still refuses to talk, he says, the negotiators should pull all previous incentive offers from the table and seek tougher sanctions. "Each day that goes on, they get closer to achieving what we are trying to prevent. So we ought to set a deadline that says 'look, if we don't get a sign from you that you are prepared to negotiate on this term of suspension, then fine. We'll pull all the offers that we've offered and we can break off talks because there is nothing really to negotiate if you're not prepared to consider suspension.'" He also is opposed to using a military threat unless it is proven Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

You've recently published an article on policy toward Iran in which you advocate what sounds like an ultimatum to Iran-although you didn't use the word-to get into serious negotiations on suspending their nuclear enrichment program. You said the United States and its negotiating partners should offer Iran "one last, time-limited chance to negotiate suspension of its fuel-cycle-related activities." Can you give some of the background on your thinking on this?

Basically Iran hasn't been negotiating since at least 2005, and if you talk with any of the European governments who have been meeting with Iran, they will tell you this.

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Copyright 2008 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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