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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani repeatedly touts his commitment to "constructive engagement" with the international community, particularly as he negotiates a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Yet, as nuclear talks resume this week, the systematic and widespread violations of human rights in Iran continue unabated.
Negotiations about Iran's nuclear program are set to resume this week in Geneva between the P5 + 1 countries (USA, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) and the new Iranian leadership -- arguably the most important diplomatic encounter in a decade. If a new round of negotiations is to effectively roll back the Iranian nuclear threat -- rather than create another "calm environment" enabling increased nuclear activity -- there are a series of specific undertakings that Iran must be called upon to do and prove it is doing. These undertakings are as follows.
Negotiations over Iran's nuclear program between Iran and six major powers began Wednesday. Given the Iranian pattern of denial, deception, and delay, the whole while uranium continues to be enriched and centrifuges continue to spin, only a verifiable abandonment by Iran of its nuclear weapons pursuits will suffice.
Will Barack Obama strike Iran to stop its nuclear program? The president is claiming that the "only way" -- not the cheapest way, nor the fastest way, but literally the "only" way -- to reach a permanent solution is for Iran to abjure weapons "themselves." Which suggests that the answer to the question at the top of the column is "no."
When Israel has been threatened in the past, the outside world (friendly and unfriendly) has urged restraint and to not to take direct action. Invariably, in such cases, the outside world has been wrong. Had Israel taken such advice in the past, it probably would not exist today.
In the run-up to the Iranian election today, there has been a massive campaign underway for imprisonment and silencing of all opposition. There have been arrests, beatings, torture, detentions, kidnappings, disappearances, and executions -- indeed, an execution binge even by Iran's wanton standards.
What if Israel acknowledged its own collection of nuclear weapons and announced a willingness to get rid of the entire arsenal in exchange for an Iranian promise to stop pursuing the bomb? Worst case, Iran refuses the offer, continues building its nukes, and we're back to square one. Either way, Israel has offered peace to its most dangerous enemy.
The crucial question at this moment is not whether to bomb or not to bomb Iran, but how should the architecture behind a regime change without military intervention look? It's starts with toughest economic sanctions and it ends with a diplomatic boycott -- and it is strengthened by more heavy sanctions.