Washington DC – NIAC hosted Charles Ferguson, President of the Federation of American Scientists, at a Congressional briefing on Friday entitled “Iran’s Nuclear Program: Can an Inspections-Based Solution Work?”
The briefing, moderated by NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi, assessed the Obama Administration’s recent departure from the Bush Administration’s “zero-enrichment” position and evaluated how safeguards could be put in place to ensure that Iran’s enrichment program is strictly for peaceful purposes.
Ferguson said that, until recently, the US had sought for Iran to give up its enrichment program entirely, while Iran considers enrichment to be its right guaranteed by the NPT. He said that both states must move past politically infeasible positions and instead seek a negotiated compromise in which Iran is allowed to enrich, but with safeguards put in place to ensure that the program is verifiably peaceful.
Secretary Clinton recently testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the US could accept an Iranian right to enrichment under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), but only under strict inspections and once Iran had “responded to the international community’s concerns.”
Ferguson presented a series of safeguards that could be put in place to provide confidence that Iran’s enrichment program is for non-weapons purposes, highlighting an article he recently published in Arms Control Today. There remains time to achieve a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, he said, and outlined potential proposals that could provide the US and Iran the necessary leverage to agree on a resolution.
The briefing was part of NIAC’s US-Iran Policy Program, which is supported by the Ploughshares Fund and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.