President Ronald Reagan's former secretary of state, George Shultz, suggests negotiators "take a few pointers from the Gipper" on how to steer talks aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program.
In an opinion piece Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal,
the 92-year-old Shultz, who served from 1982 to 1989, had four simple rules to follow in the delicate talks: Be realistic; be strong and "don't be afraid to up the ante"; develop an agenda; and "engage."
"And remember," Shultz advised, "the guy who is anxious for a deal will get his head handed to him."
Shultz illustrated the Gipper's strategy at work in negotiations with the Soviets that began in 1980 in Geneva over Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF.
Shultz said his former boss' agenda after taking office in 1981 was "zero intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles on either side at a time when the Soviets had around 1,500 such weapons deployed and the U.S. had none."
And when talks with the Soviets stalled, "We, with our NATO allies, had upped the ante," deploying INF in Europe, including nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles in West Germany.
"The Soviets walked out of negotiations," he wrote. "War talk filled the air. Reagan and America's allies stood firm."
Six months later, he wrote, "the Soviets blinked and negotiations restarted."
And on Dec. 8, 1987, Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the INF Treaty, signaling that those weapons would be eliminated, he said.
"What did the Gipper teach us?" he wrote. "Dreams can come true when accompanied by a little reality, strength and a willingness to engage."
The same advice could apply to "the Iranian problem — the regime's increasing nuclear capacity and its unacceptable behavior," he wrote.
"The reality is that Iran is the world's most active sponsor of terror, directly and through proxies such as Hezbollah, and it has developed large-scale enrichment capacity that far exceeds anything needed for power-plant operations," he said.
"Worse, Iran openly expresses its intent to destroy Israel."
"At this point, strength in the form of sanctions is taking its toll," he declared. "As with the INF negotiations, the United States shouldn't be afraid to up the ante."
Shultz backed the mandate of former Sen. Sam Nunn — now the CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative — who said on Nov. 11: "An agreement with Iran that allows us to test and verify Iran's claim that it has no intention of producing nuclear weapons is absolutely essential."
Shultz added: "If Iran has no intention of producing nuclear weapons, then Tehran should cease all uranium enrichment and immediately allow international inspections for verification."
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