French President Nicolas Sarkozy may have said it best some years ago when he declared that the only real alternative to “an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran” was a concerted diplomatic push by world powers to address that country’s nuclear program. President Obama took office on a promise to engage with hostile governments, and soon after, extended a specific offer of direct U.S. talks with Tehran, with a September sell-by date.
Just in time last week, Iran’s chief negotiator announced that he has an “updated nuclear proposal” and is ready to accept Obama’s invitation. The proposal is expected to be unveiled before the U.N. General Assembly meets later this month, but already critics are warning that Iran will use the talks to stall for time to advance its nuclear ambitions and weaken international resolve for economic sanctions.
Maybe so. But even if that is Tehran’s plan, Obama must follow through on the offer. He must pursue talks seriously, with the intention of success and not the assumption of failure.