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Jeffrey Goldberg

There's No Solution in Iran

There is no truly satisfactory solution to the problem posed by the Tehran regime’s deep desire to reach the nuclear threshold.
Will we get more than a handshake between John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif?

Will we get more than a handshake between John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif?

Photographer: Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

In the anticipatory tumult leading up to Monday's putative climax of the Iran nuclear talks, it's become easy to forget that there is no truly satisfactory solution to the problem posed by the Tehran regime’s deep desire to reach the nuclear threshold. (The most likely outcome of the talks, I'm hearing this week, is that there will be an agreement to continue talking.)

There are two main camps in the West focused on the negotiations. The first includes the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, much of the U.S. foreign-policy elite and most European governments. This group believes that a negotiated settlement with Iran will more or less guarantee that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, and the ayatollahs who will succeed him (Khamenei is not a young man) will never find themselves within easy reach of the bomb. This pro-negotiation camp believes that a treaty could perpetually keep Iran a year away from going nuclear. The more Utopian of these advocates for a negotiated solution think that a nuclear treaty will also spark a process of liberalization inside Iran. The capitalists among them believe -- with greater proof than the Utopians -- that a treaty will open a large market that sanctions has put off-limits.