Real Progress on Iran Nuclear Issues: Why it is Likely a Final Success!

The Critics Cry “No,” But Peace and Diplomacy Has Gained



Harry C. Blaney III


The announcement of an interim agreement with Iran over its nuclear program is significant and has drawn both critics and supporters. Yet in all the analysis few have drawn the truly long-term implications and just how this stage is key to long-term success. The parameters of this deal all point towards a possible successful outcome after what will be very hard negotiations and many trade-offs. What is clear is that the Iranian government and key leaders would not have gone down this path and agreed to serious restrictions on their enrichment and daily verification if they did not want and were willing to make a long term deal also.


Any good diplomat or negotiator needs to see the perspective and interests and fears on the other side. President Obam and Secretary Kerry were right when they said about both Syria and Iran that they would not have come to the negotiating table unless it was a better option to the likely outcome of the status quo and its consequences. In the case of Iran, getting to the “bomb” would result in possible, even likely, catastrophic outcomes and certainly a strengthening of the sanctions which already have cost the Iranian economy greatly and were likely to do even greater harm.


The new Iranian President clearly had a mandate from the “Supreme Leader” for a deal which inevitably and manifestly had to lead to serious restrictions on their ability to enrich to bomb grade uranium and move to a full nuclear strategic capability. It would do no good to go down this road with the Western negotiators knowing the effort would collapse and with it their economy and invite kinetic responses.


On the other hand a total capitulation to Western demands would have set off a revolt by the hard liners in Iran’s military and conservative groups which was likely equally to be unacceptable. Thus, the long-term outcome likely will be an acceptable compromise which permits strong international inspection and oversight rather than a total dismantlement of the entire nuclear efforts. Clearly there would be strict and key restrictions and intrusive inspections, making it near impossible to move towards a weapon.


Looking down the road, some also think it might open up a wider set of talks on broad regional issues which would bring a measure of stability to the region and might, just might, lessen the Sunni- Shiite conflict and enlist Iran towards stopping their support for terrorists and cooperation on Iraq and Afghanistan. Something would also have to be done to assure the Gulf States that their own security would not be threatened by any deal but would indeed enhance their security. All of this is still a hope and the road is hard and long to get to all of this and events not controlled by any of the actors in this drama.


On the road to a deal also is the stance of those who are opposed almost to any deal. What is most disturbing is the cry from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has it seems, opposed any realistic agreement between the P5 + 1 group and Iran. Indeed, there is a now more lively debate in Israel over the choices that the hard line government has made. Many in Israel and beyond question the wisdom of  a unilateral military action by Israel or the long-term implication of opposing efforts for finding both peace and security through diplomacy, and a stance threatening the close relationship of common interests and shared values between Israel and America.


The other threat is here in the United states, as noted in the recent New York Times editorial “Getting to Yes With Iran,” by those who seem bent on any agreement by President Obama on Iran, and I would add a balanced Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. Here the leaders in Congress and in particular the Senate Democrats need to stand firm with the President on not applying now new sanctions. There will be plenty of time to do so if either the interim agreement breaks down or there is no follow-through. That there is a concerted effort to sabotage the president’s effort by Republicans and even some Democrats, to find reasonable and possible solutions to both the Iran issues and the efforts at the Middle East peace is frankly appalling and morally reprehensible. Let’s see what can be accomplished and during Thanksgiving give thanks for the hard efforts of Obama and Kerry, rather than throw stone at the peacemakers.


We welcome your comments!



  1. Harry Blaney December 1, 2013 / 9:13 PM

    I must disagree with Chuck Woolery who’s goals are good but they can’t address the present risks this day or the next day or next month or next year. But actions now in the right way can contribute to the kind of world he seeks in the long term.

    As for ” I would wager its Iran playing chess while we play checkers. Only time will tell… and time is on their side, not ours.” I do not agree, indeed, if Iran were really playing “Chess” it would never have acted in such a stupid way on its nuclear program, gotten almost the entire world upset, had the Security Council imposes sanctions and have its economy in sherds or put up a past president who made his country seem mad.

    Further, I disagree with Chuck on the question of which side time is on. Indeed my betting would be it is on the side of America and its allies in the long term (no one can guess short term in a world of uncertainty and foolishness). Iran is in a box of its own making and must get out and the nuclear weapons it might have desired are really a danger to it rather than any real gain. Think of the consequences of this “deal” now and final deal not working for Iran.

    On the points of Bob Lamoree, I agree with his wise analysis on the counterproductive role of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran and some other states I could name. They are more dangerous for the nations that have them. A topic I will return in a future post. And agree with his valid point about the costs of fighting terrorism but that does not mean we should be stopping the killing and destruction terrorists cause to us all. It how we do it; and we do need to find wiser ways to address this challenge.

    As for WMD, having worked on this subject in my active duties days, Chuck has a point….but the answer is to address these risks with international cooperation and use of diplomacy and good intelligence. We have treaties and programs to address this problem, which is some cases has worked.

  2. Robert Lamoree November 29, 2013 / 9:54 AM

    If I am reading Mr. Woolery correctly, he is a ‘doubting Thomas.’ A bit of doubt hovers over most diplomatic agreements because there is a history of countries who failed to live up to the terms, or they merely abrogate the treaty, as President G.W. Bush did the Nuclear Deterrence Agreement with Russia. But it seems Mr Woolery’s doubt is more pessimistic than optimistic. I suggest it’s time to be optimistic, to to realize that achieving the goal is going to take some ‘give’ . . . something that historically we have been hesitant, if not reluctant, to do.
    Nuclear deterrence is costly . . . conceivably impossible . . . except the for ever present possibility of mutual annihilation. A more outlandish cost is that of stopping terrorism. When one thinks of cost effectiveness, the money spent trying to deter terror versus what the terrorist spend in the commission of terror is beyond calculation.
    If, as is widely suspected, Iran is a propagator/financier of terror (they have precious few reasons for liking us and other Westerners), is not attempting to mitigate past grievances a worthy goal?
    The essence of Mr. Blaney’s commentary, is the hope of reaching long term agreement, and the current negotiations/agreement are a start . . . a hope.
    As for the world ever realizing a global ‘rule of law,’ that’s about as likely as agreeing on a single religion. And, ‘peace’ by most definitions is not a time to reload.

  3. chuck woolery November 27, 2013 / 8:55 PM

    I sincerely hope this will be another victory for diplomacy — but if I had to place a bet, I would wager its Iran playing chess while we play checkers. Only time will tell… and time is on their side, not ours. Technological advances in making and delivering WMD is accelerating exponentially. Nuclear weapons are not the only thing to worry about. And, as WMD destructive power grows any effective defenses against them becomes harder and more costly to develop. Until the global ‘rule of law’ replaces war as an option… ‘peace’ can best be described as the time when one or more sides is reloading.

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