June 11, 2008

Pivot Point: Iran- U.S. Strategic Options Panel

Dealing with Iran and its nuclear program will be an urgent priority for the next president. In order to evaluate U.S. policy options, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) convened a bipartisan group of experts on foreign policy and national security, retired military personnel, former diplomats and other government officials, and specialists on Iran and the region.

Ambassador Dennis Ross presented a paper on diplomatic strategies for dealing with Iran, and Dr. Suzanne Maloney wrote on potential Iranian responses. Dr. Ashton Carter evaluated various U.S. military options, and Dr. Vali Nasr described likely Iranian reactions and other potential impacts. Ambassador Richard Haass considered the challenges of living with a nuclear Iran. Each of these papers represents an important contribution to a much-needed national discussion on U.S. policy toward Iran. Based on these papers and expert group discussion, as well as additional research and analysis, three CNAS authors (Dr. James Miller, Christine Parthemore, and Dr. Kurt Campbell) proposed that the next administration pursue “game-changing diplomacy” with Iran. This proposal, which represents solely the views of the three CNAS authors, would involve de-emphasizing military threats, offering direct U.S.-Iranian discussions without preconditions on a wide range of issues, and inviting Iran to participate as a more responsible member of the international community. It would accept Iran’s right to enrich uranium despite its past transgressions, while insisting on immediate comprehensive verification, and encouraging Iran to give up its enrichment activities voluntarily.