April 1, 2008

NIAC Conference: Breaking the US-Iran Stalemate

When it comes to Iran, President Bush has all but banged the drums of war. In fact, when faced with the question of Iran’s nuclear file, it’s been talk of sanctions or war, but nothing else – even though sanctions have gotten us nowhere.

On April 8, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) will host foreign policy A-listers, Congressional members and staff, key academics and accredited media to discuss another option on Capitol Hill: a multinational enrichment facility inside Iran, coupled with direct and comprehensive talks with Tehran.

Most analysts agree: Iran’s nuclear program is progressing faster than the West can muster pressure on Tehran. NIAC’s conference will address the central question:

How can the US prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, even if Tehran continues to enrich uranium?


In addition, speakers – who will include former Under-Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Hans Blix, and reporters Barbara Slavin (USA Today) and Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor) – will explore how the new Majles, now overrun with conservatives, will affect the direction of Iran’s foreign policy and nuclear goals.

Slavin and Peterson recently returned from Iran, where they covered Iran’s March 14 parliamentary elections.

Other speakers include Ahmad Sadri, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Lake Forest College, and David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who has been vocal about the need for a new US foreign policy with Iran, will deliver the keynote address.

On February 6, Senator Feinstein wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle that “The Bush administration should get serious and launch a major diplomatic effort with Iran. The stakes are simply too high.”

The California Senator has also endorsed the idea of a multinational enrichment facility in Iran. Such a solution would enable the international community to prevent Iran from diverting its nuclear program towards a weapons option. Though not an entirely new idea, the proposal has recently gained momentum because of a March 20 article in The New York Review of Books, co-authored by William Luers, Jim Walsh and Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who will speak at NIAC’s April 8 conference.

Luers, Walsh and Ambassador Pickering argue that, “Turning Iran’s sensitive nuclear activities into a multinational program will reduce the risk of proliferation and create the basis for a broader discussion not only of our disagreements but of our common interests as well.”

On April 8, Pickering will go into greater detail on how this proposal just might break the US-Iranian stalemate.

Dr. Trita Parsi is the President of the National Iranian American Council and author of “Treacherous Alliance – The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the US” (Yale University Press, 2007).

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