We have little time left to expend on Iranian stalling tactics, if that is indeed what this overture is. As we noted in a report for the Bipartisan Policy Center last week, which was based on an in-depth study of Iran’s known enrichment capacities and uranium stockpile by a respected nuclear power expert, we believe Iran will be able to produce a nuclear weapon by 2010. Meanwhile, Israel appears ever more determined to conduct a unilateral military strike if necessary.
Another key condition for successful negotiations is building leverage on Iran. Ideally, during the Group of 20 summit this week and the time before the talks, there could be a push for expanded sanctions targeted at Iran’s financial and energy sectors, as well as at foreign companies that do business with them. By ratcheting up pressure on Iran before we sit down, Western negotiators would gain both sticks (additional measures) and carrots (repealing sanctions) with which to induce Iranian cooperation.