One of the most pressing international crises of 2012 has been the possibility of an Israeli (American-aided) attack on Iran due to the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear program that may someday be sufficient for developing nuclear weapons. This tension comes after an existing (and immense) world community disapproval of the existing Israeli treatment of Palestinians, exacerbated by American wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, and drone attacks in Yemen, Pakistan, and elsewhere. In short, the possibility of yet another attack on a Muslim majority that simply confirms for many that American (and seemingly her only ally, Israel) really do have fundamental problems with Islam and Muslims.
And the hypocrisy of Israel (which already possesses over 200 nuclear warheads) and an atrocious record of human rights violations questioning Iran’s aim of developing nuclear energy has led to some pointed political commentary, such as the cartoon on the right.
It has been hard to find sober, objective facts on the Iranian nuclear crisis, and even harder to find policy makers who are able to offer clearheaded advice on how to move forward. Until now.
A group in the UK has just released what might be the most realistic analysis of the situation. This group, called the Oxford Research Group, presents itself as being committed to: “The Oxford Research Group (ORG) is a leading independent think-tank that has been influential for 30 years in pioneering the idea of sustainable approaches to security as an alternative to violent global confrontation, through original research, wide-ranging dialogue, and practical policy recommendations.”
One hopes that all American, Israeli, and Iranian pocliy makers avail themselves of its clearheaded vision.
Readers should be warned, however, that the report does utilize British spellings. Therefore, it is not for the faint of heart.
Key principles of what a deal would look like
This briefing outlines what might be considered a set of broad principles for negotiations on the Iran nuclear issue. These principles have been neglected in the past in the belief that objectives are better achieved by more coercive means.
The key principles are as follows:
• Talking without preconditions
• Incentivise phasing of negotiations and pay attention to sequencing
• Need to define political endgame and how to get there
• Seeing the opportunities for positive signalling
• Face-saving and equity
• Focusing on mutual security concerns and areas of cooperation
• Creating a climate for trust building - an informal track to support the negotiations
• De-escalating the rhetoric
• Taking “regime change” off the table