US Foreign Policy Veterans Urge Iran Talks
By VOA News
05 March 2009
Two U.S. foreign policy veterans have advised lawmakers that Iran's nuclear ambitions are more likely to cause nuclear proliferation than nuclear war.
Former national security advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski told the Senate Foreign Relations committee Thursday that the possibility of Iran getting a nuclear weapon would likely prompt nations in the Middle East to pursue their own nuclear programs.
Both men warned that a proliferation of nuclear programs would pose a far greater threat than Iran actually using such a weapon. They argued there is no reason to believe Iran would enter into nuclear war, which they said would be a "suicidal" act.
Brzezinski proposed having immediate, low-level talks to begin engaging Iran in a non-threatening way, based on Iran's assertion it is not pursuing a nuclear weapon. The former Democratic presidential advisor said that would give the U.S. and others the right to ask for reassurances from Iran, without being confrontational and provoking Iranian isolationism.
Scowcroft, an advisor to several Republican presidents, argued that negotiations should get underway before the Iranian presidential elections in June, so that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cannot argue the U.S. is delaying talks as a means to influence the outcome of the vote.
Scowcroft also said it is also important to unite the world's leading powers in dealing with Iran, so that the United States is not left in the position of playing the "bad cop". He argued that China, which has resisted stronger sanctions against Tehran, could be convinced of the importance of unity by pointing out that a regional conflict prompted by Iran's nuclear pursuits would disrupt Beijing's key energy supply routes.
Senator John Kerry, who chaired the hearing, said he was pleased by the announcement Thursday that Iran will likely be invited to talks with the United States and others on Afghanistan.
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