The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

Iran election opens door to U.S. talks

Paul Taylor-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

A wind of change is blowing through Iran, where hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faces an increasingly tough battle for re-election on Friday.

Whether or not Ahmadinejad fends off reformist Mirhossein Moussavi and two other candidates after a turbulent campaign, Iran is likely to be more open to talks with the United States on a possible "grand bargain" to end 30 years of hostility. Tehran will not give up its nuclear program, whoever wins. But it may be persuaded to stop short of testing or making a bomb.

There is a sense of deja vu about this election.

In 1997, a soft-spoken reformist, Mohammad Khatami, swept to a surprise landslide victory over the establishment candidate, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, on a tide of young people and women clamoring for greater freedom. But after his supporters won control of parliament, the conservative clerical establishment used unelected institutions in Iran's complex power system to neutralize Khatami and block his liberal agenda.

There is, however, a crucial difference this time.

The United States, which had a policy of "dual containment" of Iran and Iraq at the time, never seized the opportunity of Khatami's victory to open a dialogue. Now, U.S. President Barack Obama is waiting with an outstretched hand and has made crucial gestures by accepting the Islamic Republic by its name, offering talks without pre-conditions and admitting Washington's role in ousting nationalist Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953.

Justification of new nuclear power in the UK


Paul Dorfman- Paul Dorfman is with the Nuclear Consultation Group and a senior research fellow at the University of Warwick. The opinions expressed are his own.

“Justification” of new-build nuclear power is a high-level assessment of whether the benefits of building new nuclear plants outweigh the detriments. Once the justification decision has been taken it will be difficult if not impossible to re-open this major issue.

Breaking the deadlock on nuclear disarmament


John Duncan – John Duncan is the United Kingdom Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament. He comments regularly via Twitter and on his own Blog. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Nuclear disarmament has been rather knocked out of the foreign affairs headlines over recent weeks by more immediate concerns over potential pandemics, the Indian election and the endgame of the long running conflict in Sri Lanka. But last week while the world’s media were looking elsewhere the international arms control and disarmament community took a remarkable step to break what has been called the “Decade of Deadlock”.

from The Great Debate:

Iran sanctions and wishful thinking

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate
-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

So what's so difficult in getting Iran to drop its nuclear program? All it needs is a great American leader who uses sanctions to break the Iranian economy so badly that popular discontent sweeps away the leadership. It is replaced without a shot being fired.