Negotiations addressing Iran’s nuclear program and global economic sanctions against the country appeared to make progress this week.
The parties, including Iran, the United States, other members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany, began with the makings of a deal. Iran will need to yield on transparency, admitting International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to all of its installations and alerting the agency to any changes in its nuclear program. Iran continues to maintain that it seeks only peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Iran may be ready to play ball. Its economy has been battered by the international sanctions and the costs it incurs to get around the sanctions.
Its presidential election this year offered reason for hope for a change of course. Of the candidates approved by the ayatollah-run Guardians Council, the most liberal, Hassan Rouhani, won.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to warn that Iran and Mr. Rouhani are acting in bad faith. He says the United States should take military action against Iran, even though he knows the last thing Americans want or can afford is another Middle East war. Israel apparently remains the only nation in the region with nuclear weapons.
Eased or removed concerns about Iran’s nuclear intentions are a desirable goal in the quest for Middle East peace. A twisted trading relationship with Iran is to no one’s advantage, including America’s. But that is the high, yet necessary, price to pay to put Iran on a path away from nuclear weapons capacity.
Three Mideast processes could yet come out right for the United States: the Iran nuclear negotiations, Israeli-Palestinian talks, and Syrian peace talks set for next month.
Success in any one of them would be worth having. All three would be extremely good for the region, for the United States, and for showing that talks instead of war can resolve problems.