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Kissinger, Shultz: Judge Iranian Progress on Change, not Tone

Image: Kissinger, Shultz: Judge Iranian Progress on Change, not Tone

By Melissa Clyne   |   Tuesday, 03 Dec 2013 08:50 AM

The temporary deal struck with Iran to freeze or scale back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for lifting some economic sanctions will be meaningless if a firm and final deal is not reached quickly, say former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.

“Standing by itself, the interim agreement leaves Iran, hopefully only temporarily, in the position of a nuclear-threshold power — a country that can achieve a military nuclear capability within months of its choosing to do so,” the two write in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “A final agreement leaving this threshold capacity unimpaired would institutionalize the Iranian nuclear threat, with profound consequences for global nonproliferation policy and the stability of the Middle East."

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Kissinger, who served under presidents Nixon and Ford, and Shultz, who served under Reagan, outline the challenging task of negotiating with a nation that historically has been unyielding and deceptive; a government that periodically would engage in talks but never dismantle any of its growing enriched uranium stockpile or enrichment infrastructures.

Over the past decade, they say, Iran has rejected proposal after proposal while continuing to accelerate its nuclear program.

“Under the interim agreement, Iranian conduct that was previously condemned as illegal and illegitimate has effectively been recognized as a baseline, including an acceptance of Iran's continued enrichment of uranium (to 5 percent) during the agreement period,” they write.

“And that baseline program is of strategic significance. For Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium is coupled with an infrastructure sufficient to enrich it within a few months to weapons-grade, as well as a plausible route to producing weapons-grade plutonium in the installation now being built at Arak.”

Continual lowering of the bar, by the United States and other nations, only feeds Iran’s insolent bravado, they say, noting that after the six-month agreement was reached, the Iranian negotiator described it as “giving Iran its long-claimed right to enrich, and in effect, eliminating the American threat of force as a last resort.”

Kissinger and Shultz warn that anything less than a permanent agreement, requiring Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, likely would result in the nation emerging as a “de facto nuclear power leading an Islamist camp,” while simultaneously damaging American credibility.

“Progress should be judged by a change of program, not a change of tone,” they say.

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