Wise move

Opportunity to end the nuclear conflict with Iran


Wise move
by Alon Ben-Meir

Iran's insistence on enriching uranium in defiance of three UN Security Council resolutions, combined with a bevy of antagonistic threats aimed at Israel's existence has created an explosive recipe that may well precipitate a horrifying regional conflagration. For Iran's own best interests, its contentious leaders would be well advised to tone down their anti-Israeli threats, which have not been taken lightly thus far, and find a diplomatic solution to Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program.

The recent Israeli air force exercises and American naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf, which were countered by Iran's test-firing of a variety of missiles, have only heightened an already tense atmosphere. It is now critical to look at who might be in a position to defuse the tension and restore some stability to a volatile region already battered by a devastating war in Iraq.

At this point, Turkey has made itself well positioned geopolitically to play such a significant role. The fact that the Bush administration has shifted policy after nearly three decades and agreed to participate in the international talks with Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Geneva may well open the door for future direct talks to be facilitated by the Turks.

Israeli concerns over Iran's nuclear program are real and escalating rapidly, regardless of the fact that the US and the International Energy and Atomic Agency (IEAE) show different estimates of how close Iran is to obtaining the needed materials and technology. Israelis know well that while the United States and Europe are weary of Iran's nuclear ambitions, they do not share Israel's sense of urgency about Iran's nuclear potential. The Jews' history in Europe does not offer Israel the luxury of taking matters of national survival lightly. Thus Israel tends to limit the scope of risks it can take with any one of its neighbors. Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak noted recently that "Israel is the strongest country in the region and has proved in the past it is not afraid to take action when its vital security interests are at stake." Indeed, when survival is at stake, an Israeli official told me during my recent visit to the region, the Israelis will not worry about public relations.

That being said, Israel wants to avoid escalation of the conflict with Iran fearing that such an extremely sensitive issue could result in a terrible miscalculation. Syrian President Bashar Assad also spoke on the issue last week stating that "The problem is that when one starts such action in the Middle East, one cannot manage the reactions that can spread out over years or even decades." For this reason, Israel will continue to seek and push for a diplomatic solution and welcomes the American participation in the upcoming talks with Iran. However, should there not be a breakthrough in these and future talks, Israel will not wait until Iran reaches the point of no return-the point in which Iran musters the technology to produce a nuclear weapon.

With the best of intentions Britain, France and Germany, representing the EU in the negotiations with Iran have thus far failed to persuade Iran to cease its enrichment of uranium. Swimming with oil money, Iran continues to defy three sets of UN sanctions almost with impunity while making considerable progress in its nuclear program. From the Iranian vantage point, the American preoccupation in Iraq and increasingly in Afghanistan substantially reduces the risks of an American attack on Iran. It is doubtful that under the present circumstances the next round of talks even with US participation will produce different results. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei plainly stated on July 16th that "In relations to the negotiations--we have clearly defined red lines"--a reference to Iran's insistence that it has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

Whether the next round of talks with Iran will help alleviate the tension between the US and Iran remains to be seen. What is needed at this critical time is a dramatic shift in the dynamic of the conflict, and this is where Turkey might be better suited to mediate Iran's nuclear issue. In the five days of meetings I had in Ankara just recently, whenever the subject of Iran's nuclear program was mentioned Turkish officials and academics expressed grave concerns about the growing danger of yet another avoidable and potentially devastating war in the Middle East. For the Turks, finding a diplomatic solution is not one of many options but the only sane option to prevent a horrific outcome.

Apart from Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's recent claims that "Maybe the mediator role regarding Iran's nuclear issue will soon be given to Turkey" due to its recent diplomatic achievements between Israel and Syria, there are many reasons why Turkey may succeed in mediating a peaceful solution to the nuclear impasse. Other than being directly affected by regional events, Turkey generally enjoys good relations with all states in the region, it has not been tainted with the war in Iraq; it is a predominantly Muslim State, Middle Eastern as well as European. Turkey shares the longest-standing border with Iran, and has maintained good neighborly relations with Tehran for centuries with expanding trade relations. Moreover, Turkey and Iran share a similar sentiment and have collaborated recently on the Kurdish issue, and both have a shared interest in this regard for the emergence of a stable Iraq.

Whereas Turkey, at this juncture, may not be able to mediate between Israel and Iran, Ankara certainly stands a much better chance to mediate between Washington and Tehran. Moreover, the Iranian government is mostly concerned with the Bush Administration's attitude toward regime change in Tehran. Iran is terrified of the prospect of an American attack on its nuclear facilities, but its leadership wants assurances from the US that Washington will no longer pursue regime change and will treat it with dignity and respect in dealing with the nuclear issue. Because of Turkey's standing in the region and as a credible bridge to the West, Turkey might succeed where others have failed. Turkey is a close ally and a reliable friend of the United States; it is an important member of NATO, it has worked fervently to maintain the democratic nature of the state, and has received due praise for its recent diplomatic mediating efforts.

Turkey can better understand the nature of Iran's threats, specifically in connection with the United States who has made no secret of its efforts to support Ahmadinejad's opponents. Arzu Celalifer, a Turkish expert on Iran from the ISRO Center for Middle Eastern Studies in Ankara suggested that "Turkey may also be in a better position than the EU representatives to bypass Ahmadinejad and reach out directly to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei." In addition, she said, "Turkey may offer a sort of plan B whereby Iran can be persuaded to enrich uranium on Turkish soil under strict IAEA monitoring." Turkey, in short, can change the dynamics by offering a new venue for Americans and Iranians to meet and by generating a new momentum for serious dialogue. Finally, Turkey can provide Iran with a dignified disengagement plan, because if Iran is to make any concessions it will more likely make them to a fellow Muslim-majority state with which it has long and friendly relations.

The decision by the Bush administration to participate in the upcoming round of negotiations, however belated, is a wise one. It offers an opportunity to end the nuclear conflict with Iran. Turkey and the US should build on this development and prevent once and for all the prospect of another potentially devastating war.

Alon Ben-Meir’s dedication to writing about, analyzing, and offering practical solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict is the result of his many years of direct participation and personal experience in the Middle East. He is regularly involved in two-track diplomacy and continues to monitor closely events throughout the region.  


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more from Alon Ben-Meir

Abarmard: What are you

by questions (not verified) on

Abarmard: What are you suggesting?? Iran should continue enriching Uranium until it is able to produce nuclear bombs even at the expene of being nuked???

Producing Nuclear bombs, a 70-year old technology is going to help Iran ??? In what way??

Do you really think nuclear technology/bombs is a panacea to Iran's problems??? What have you been smoking???


US is pushing the same

by Dariush (not verified) on

US is pushing the same policy as before in this meeting knowing Iran will not accept them.
The purpose is to intentionally fail the negotiations and sell to the world specially Americans that Diplomacy as Obama advocated does not work and the only option is military action.
Failure of this meeting in the name of diplomacy will harm Obama and help McCain even though Obama's diplomacy may be reasonable and acceptable by Iran. This way this administration will kill the idea of diplomacy and help McCain/Republicans at the same time.



by Abarmard on

Valid question. Just to bring to your attention that Iran has already done that. The west for a long time has not shown a sign of cooperation to Iran. They have only tried to show that they are superior and come from that position.

Main point here is that Iran is not doing anything illegal and the sanctions and the pressures from the west have been imposed illegally.

Let's say Iran would suspend its activity for six months, what are your predictions as what will happen. I do not see any benefit for Iran doing that except the legitimacy that the west would gain in supporting their arguments that the Iranian activities are illegal.

On the other hand, since Iran is not doing anything wrong, they see no reason to lose that political card to the west, that historically has messed Iran up badly (Refer to the Iranian modern history and the treaties not met by the west)

Iran must master the technology so we can move forward and not be dependent on the west. West knows that and they are going to do whatever to stop Iran. Iran must win this one time. I believe this is a critical step for the future of Iran and the respect of our people. Not as a Third world lower beings, but equal.

Iran must stand firm but show that within a reason they are willing to satisfy all the western concerns. (Although they have done that)

NOTE that the western issue with Iran is not nuclear but rather political positioning of the middle east. That's a longer discussion not meant to be put in the comment section.


Answer this

by Anonymous1234 (not verified) on

I am Iranian and 100% support the nuclear power program. However, why not suspend enrichment for 6 weeks as they are asking as a confidence building measure.
I think Iran should be wise and do as they say..look at it long term. Long term we have to co-exist with everyone in the world as friends not as enemies.
A brief suspension would not slow things down and may do a lot for a peaceful settlement.
If Iran does not suspend mad men might attack it and then the program would fall behind, Iranians will be murdered and we would not have gained anything. I don't know but logically speaking I think it is sensible to try and resolve this issue peacefully.


Iran has stayed on her grounds

by Abarmard on

And there is a reason for that. The government of Iran has shown that you can not scare the old lady from a large penis!

Whether Iran is bluffing or not, the position of the Iranian government is clear. We are going to enrich Uranium based on the international Rights given to all countries. We are going to master the technology.

The world first tried to scare Iran by sanctions, after a while they began to test Iranian side, to see if they can scare Iran by "Monster" weapons and Israeli threats. Iran in returned fired missiles and declared that any "mini-me" Israeli attack is preceived as an American attack. That clarified the position.

Now if Israel and US decide to attack, they are not going to bomb and run, knowing that it's a long term decision. At this juncture, Iran is on the right side of the equation and the world knows it. Bullying Israeli admin can't change the realities of the new Middle East. My suggestion to Israel and her supporters:

Live with it.

Finally, I disagree with the possibility that Turkey would have any roles in this matter. The government of Turkey is not trusted by any sides and they are not the most loved nation in the western side. They have historically played rough to those who were in need of a hand. Their shortsightedness in regional and international politics is the very reason for them to continue being on the side lines.


For Iran's own best interests........

by Faribors Maleknasri M.D. (not verified) on

..........will Iranians get a descendant for their most last PERSERKAISER, quit the contracts with all other countries, open doors and windows of their Islamic Republic for Imperialists, give up their being master in their Country and beginn as slaves for those who are standing since 30 years arround barking and grunting in order to rescue them from thirst for Oil and their hunger for Gas.
why not speak clearly out what is in reality meant hier?
7ty Million Iranians do not know what Iran own interessts are and the only one who knows it, well his word does not count. may be only for "IRANIAN"s. as lang as the "work" is paid for - so i think - it should be all right. And how much gets "IRANIAN" paid for all this wisdom? Greeting


Mr. Ben Lord of War could go down as well!

by Anonym7 (not verified) on

Mr. Ben it is not good that you and your AIPAC friends keep creating more wars in the middle east. As you have witnessed past several years, war sometimes takes down the Lords of War with it as well (also watch the movie //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_War). Don't listen to me, listen to decent Americans such as George Soros who says:

"I am not sufficiently engaged in Jewish affairs to be involved in the reform of AIPAC; but I must speak out in favor of the critical process that is at the heart of our open society. I believe that a much-needed self-examination of American policy in the Middle East has started in this country; but it can't make much headway as long as AIPAC retains powerful influence in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Some leaders of the Democratic Party have promised to bring about a change of direction but they cannot deliver on that promise until they are able to resist the dictates of AIPAC. Palestine is a place of critical importance where positive change is still possible. Iraq is largely beyond our control; but if we succeeded in settling the Palestinian problem we would be in a much better position to engage in negotiations with Iran and extricate ourselves from Iraq."


Go shove it

by toofantheoncesogreat (not verified) on

Ben says: "However, should there not be a breakthrough in these and future talks, Israel will not wait until Iran reaches the point of no return-the point in which Iran musters the technology to produce a nuclear weapon."

As an Iranian who cares as much about Israel as I do about the state of Monaco, go shove your threats.

What are you going to do? Somehow magically fly 50-60 F16 all the way to Iran from your little european colony, take out over 100 sites and fly back before the sabbath? Are you kidding me?? Who's airspace are you going to use? Iraq? Jordan? Turkey? Saudi Arabia? most of them dont even accept you officially as a country.

You cant do shit, the Pentagon will not and cannot help you in your religious jihad deathwish, because if you do, if a single nuclear weapon is detonated in Iran by your bunker busters, Israel will be recieve a retaliation in kind sooner or later. I hear a nuclear bomb goes by the price of an Opel in certain former Soviet states.



by Abol D, Abolitionist (not verified) on

...The best move this iranian new player can make on this gambling table (since he is outnumbered by his counterpart pack of wolves) is to request the participants to give an accurate and honest report of their nuclear arsenal So that Professor Danesh Along With Mr. Gore sign the protocol to destroy them one by one until earth becomes a nuclear weapon free "Planet" with absolute transparency--

--It is not important how tall the chips can get on the casino's gambling table but that what is the worth of each chip in the pile--

yes, we have chips and we have chips...



by Danesh (not verified) on

You said it all, good job!

What you said is in the hearts and minds of most true Iranians. Unfortunately, there are a few who think whoever speaks for the Iranian people and their rights is an agent of the regime. But who cares!

I'm proud of those young Iranian engineers and scientists for their accomplishments. They have done wonders with their bare hands against all odds. Even the Ex-Director of the Atomic Energy Agency during the shah's regime has praised their accomplishments. And Guess what? I'm even against mullahs.


Sign of things to come.

by Shadooneh (not verified) on

I think the Iranian policy trajectory is changing significantly towards more favorable direction for Iran and the whole region. Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei's remarks can be seen as the major opening signal in this regards.
Back to the main thrust of this article. It seems the Israeli talking heads want us to agree that Israel, and only her, can have her cake and eat it too. Alon Ben-Meir's statement, "Israelis know well that while the United States and Europe are weary of Iran's nuclear ambitions, they do not share Israel's sense of urgency about Iran's nuclear potential" reveals Israelis' deep-seated arrogance and domineering attitudes towards Iran. Since there is no evidence that Iran is engaged in building a nuclear arsenal, he and his cohorts bring up Iran's "nuclear ambitions" and "nuclear potential" as catchwords to point out the Iranian evil deeds. In other words Iran must be prevented from "learning" how to enrich Uranium to any level - a position W had announced before he had to eat crow and send William Burns to Geneva to "listen" and play the role of a potted plant. Israel's position is Iran must not be allowed to touch this stuff regardless of the fact that enriching Low Lever Uranium (LLU) is perfectly withing Iran's rights as a signatory of the NPT and a full member of the IAEA. I don't blame the Israelis to be jittery and nervous because of what Ahmadinejad has said, or what some want to believe he has said, but demanding Iran to give up its national rights because of some suspicions and perceived threats is irrational and unacceptable. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that refuses to define its borders, uses religion-based dogma called Zionism to occupy other people's homeland by encouraging and financing its rabid extremists to create ILLEGAL settlements and impose an Apartheid regime through state-sponsored terror. Israel is also the ONLY country in the Middle East that possessed a large "secret" nuclear arsenal aimed at every major population center in the ME, and maybe even beyond, while steadfastly refusing to sign the NPT. I am not sure why Israel is worried about other countries "potential" and "ambitions" while it uses its nukes as threat and has been the main source of instability and war crimes in the region. I would like to remind Mr. Ben-Meir the "nuclear conflict" with Iran will NOT end until Israel signs the NPT and thus give assurances to its neighbors that she will not use nukes to enforce its domineering and colonial ambitions.
Here is yet another example of Israeli arrogance and chutzpah:


Lets face it chaps. The

by tt (not verified) on

Lets face it chaps.

The post-war period of relitive peace, security and prosperity, provided by the US, is coming to an end.

Under the US umbrella of security, and hanging onto the US’s incredible economic coat tails, Europe has enjoyed 70 years of peace and money.

Now Russia and China are on the march, Islamism is rising around the world, and the Europeans are weak, their economies failing and their military unimpressive.

The only strong country with any clout in Europe was Britian, but its military has been stretched to breaking point. It is under-funded, and its equipment is fallying apart. It can barely operate two small wars.

The UK economy is on its knees, as Labour have borrowed far beyond their means. And by following the French style of tax and spend, its ability to create wealth is dying.

In the future, China and Russia, along with various Islamist war Lords, will be deciding things.

Those who spent the last decades hating America, will look back on the good ol’ days of George W, when they realise what real evil is.

As for Israel, I really don’t know how much longer it can hold on.

I personally think that getting rid of Israel may be a disaster for the various dictators of the region, who may find that - with no enemy around - their own power deflates.

On the other hand, Q and anonym7 and their various Islamist friends, and those at the BBC who have been campaigning for Israel’s destruction for so many years, will be in their element.




hahaha (not verified)

((معاون احمدی‌نژاد: ایران دوست مردم اسرائیل است

اسفندیار رحیم مشایی، معاون رئیس جمهور ایران طی اظهاراتی
بی سابقه، ایران را دوست مردم اسرائیل و آمریکا خواند.
اظهار دوستی با مردم آمریکا سابقه دارد و مقام های ایرانی بیشتر
مواقع بر گسترش روابط مردم دو کشور تاکید می کنند اما چنین
حرفی تا کنون درباره اسرائیل زده نشده است. ))


The Iranian nation has the

by Saeed J (not verified) on

The Iranian nation has the same right to the nuclear energy (in any form and for any purpose) as others in the world including Israel.


Do as we say! (to Anonymous321)

by Anonym7 (not verified) on

I don't think this guy (Ben) cares about NPT and internaltional laws when it comes to Israel. He is here to tell Iran what to do. Here is the cake under the frosting:

Ben says: "However, should there not be a breakthrough in these and future talks, Israel will not wait until Iran reaches the point of no return-the point in which Iran musters the technology to produce a nuclear weapon."

Although, I am for normalization of Iran/Israel relation, I hope Iran is in a position that it does not have to give in to such demands and threats.



by Anonymous321 (not verified) on

When is the IAEA going to Israel?


Alon Ben-Meir is a wise man!

by Mehdi on

I think this is a very accurate analysis and also has the right attitude towards the whole situation. Good to know there are intelligent people out there who understand and are able to be creative instead of destructive.


Ben, how about the investigation of Israeli nukes?

by Anonym7 (not verified) on

Ben, why don't you advocate investigation of Israeli nukes? Why so much pressure on Iran and not any pressure on Israel, a country with so many loose canons in charge of it.
Past 26 years Iran has not started a single war, Israel on the other hand during that same period started two wars which caused suffering for both Lebanese and Israelis.
Personally I wish Iran recognizes Israel and normalizes its relation with that country sometime soon, at the same time I don't believe that Iran should trust either the Israel or the U.S. anytime soon.