Help Iranians. Stop worrying about the bomb

Before being led down a strategically barren path of sanctions and threats focused exclusively on the nuclear programme, Western leaders have a unique opportunity to seize on the promise of a movement far more consequential to the future of Iran and the broader Middle East than any nuclear deal with the existing regime. This is a moment for Europe’s leaders to draw on their countries’ longstanding knowledge of Iran to explore a different path. The US Government, even under Mr Obama, appears constrained by history and an unwillingness to think creatively about Iran. And yet the moment cries out for something other than a predictable set of tortured Security Council negotiations that will achieve little.

The West should redirect its focus to helping the new Iran emerging, however erratically, however slowly, from the fallout of the June elections. This means using every opportunity to highlight support for the Iranian people’s legitimate aspirations in every international forum where Iran is discussed. (The reform movement’s recent chant — “Obama, are you with us or with them” — makes plain the need for the West to do more than merely “bear witness”.) It means making clear to the regime that a nuclear deal should no longer be considered a get-out-of-jail-free card as it continues its despotic behaviour. It means providing Israel with additional security guarantees robust enough to dissuade it from a calamitous strike on Iran. It means developing... >>>

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