What an Iran Deal Would Look Like

After decades of antagonism, Washington should make every effort to create new openings in nuclear talks

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President Rouhani deplanes to cheers and jeers as he returns to Tehran on September 28 after visiting the U.S.

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Also, there are two nuclear facilities--one near Qom and the other in Arak--that worry experts. The former is underground and could withstand an air strike. The latter is a heavy-water reactor that when completed will generate plutonium, another pathway to a nuclear bomb. Israel would like to see both reactors shut down. That's a nonstarter for Iran, which claims they are both for civilian purposes. The solution might be to have an intrusive inspection process.

This is not foolproof. We have to recognize that any country with a proper scientific establishment--and Iran has that--can convert a peaceful nuclear program into a military one. Iran knows this, which is why it is creating broad and deep technical expertise in this field. It's impossible to reverse this now, if it ever was possible. The international community's goal should be to prevent Iran's program from such a breakout. Careful monitoring could help ensure that any suspicious shifts would be detected. The hope has to be that Iran is smart enough to seek the influence and insurance policy that such a deal would provide rather than pursue nuclear weapons, which would turn it into a pariah like North Korea and possibly trigger military action against it.

The nuclear deal aside, Iran is a great civilization and a great nation. It is a tragedy that it sits isolated outside the global system. This is largely the product of its own actions. But Washington should take every opportunity and make every effort to see whether the nuclear talks can create new openings. There is the small possibility that 2013 could one day be seen as the year Iran came in from the cold.

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