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Ending the Conflict with Iran so Everyone Wins

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Why are President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton seemingly so bereft of ideas on how to handle Iran's nuclear ambitions?  
I'm not going to waste time, as so many editorialists do, on calling for a change in "tone" or for more "respect."  Of course we need to incorporate both of those things. 

The Obama Administration knows this very well, but talking nice and with respect will only get you so far. The problem is that it is not productive if all we ever say to Iran is: "Give up your nuclear program" to which they say "No," and to which we come back a few weeks later and say, "Well, how about now?"  This will actually make us look weak and unimaginative, as the recent "bipartisanship"- with the Republicans over the stimulus bill has. (Similarly, sanctions won't work unless the world--especially China--is willing to stop buying Iranian oil, and stop shipping them refined gasoline.  Iran is immune to all other sanctions).
We need to have a new beginning, a new framework for discussion.

To begin with, we must distinguish between Iran's legitimate desires for nuclear energy--which they are entitled to pursue as signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement--and the potential for destructive use of enriched uranium for bomb-making.  These are NOT the same thing, and recognition of that fact opens up a world of possibilities, which I will detail below.

But first, since everyone has talked only about the reasons why Iran should not pursue nuclear power, let me briefly state why it is in our interest that Iran does pursue nuclear power:

1.    It would reduce greenhouse gases.  Iran currently burns oil for its power.  This contributes to greenhouse gases and should be discouraged.  Iran contributes relatively little to world output of CO2, but everyone must do their part and nuclear power does not produce greenhouse gases.
2.    It would encourage a middle class.  We keep talking about how we want Iran to develop a middle class to counter the influence of the mullahs and the undereducated masses.  Well, it is hard to imagine a more middle class professional than a nuclear engineer.  Also, training to be an engineer opens the mind not just to science, but also to a more liberal view of the world in other areas.  Demand for real political and economic reform will come from an emerging middle class.
3.    It would stretch finite supplies of oil longer.  Whether we are at peak oil now, or soon will be, we need to buy some time while alternatives are developed.  Allowing Iran to power their electrical needs with nuclear power would buy us some time.
4.    It would make Iran dependent on the rest of the world for uranium.  Unlike oil, Iran has few uranium resources of its own.  They will be less likely to cast themselves in the role of pariah state when they are tied to the world for their power needs.
5.    It would be a source of national pride.  This should not be regarded as against our interests.  It is the states that feel maligned and disrespected that we have to fear, not those who are engaged as partners on the economic stage.

Just so we are all on the same page, in case there is still any doubt, we should make a formal declaration that we will respond with full military force if Iran attacks Israel--i.e. we will "wipe Iran off the map."  If it comes to that, I think even the Arabs will not blame us for destroying such a dangerous neighbor.  And, we should continue to assist Israel in every security measure they need, and make it publicly known we are doing so, since it is Israel, and not Iran, who most closely reflects our values and interests.

But let's not be negative.  

Here is my proposal, in three parts,which can be applied together or separately.  Adopting these proposals should please all parties.  Iran would get its nuclear power.  Israel and America would be assured that Iran's nuclear fuel could not find its way into bombs.

1a. Investigate and assist Iran (yes, really) in developing nuclear power plants that cannot produce plutonium, for example, pebble bed reactors.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor.  These reactors are being built for production in China and in France - which gets 80% of its power from nuclear sources already (We also need to centralize nuclear reprocessing as France does, so spent uranium is safe to dispose of.)  For technical reasons, the embedded fuel in this kind of reactor cannot be used to produce highly enriched uranium.
 
1b. Involve Iran in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).  This is the global program to develop safe and efficient forms of nuclear energy that cannot be subverted into weapon making (i.e. no plutonium is produced, and radioactive components cannot be separated from the reactor).  The U.S. and Japan are quite far along in this.  It is the reactor-in-a-box approach.  See New Scientist magazine for more information, click here

1c. Set up a Global Uranium Bank.  Just recently, New Scientist magazine published an article on how nations are pressing for a Global Uranium Bank to supply the inevitably increasing number of nuclear players in the world with internationally monitored sources of fuel.  There is even agreement on setting up such a station in Iran, to be monitored by the IEAE.

You'll notice that I have emphasized scientific approaches to this conflict.  This is in keeping with Obama's stated intention to return science to its rightful place in decision-making.  America has to lead to a more peaceful world with the latest technology.

We also have to stop treating every country we have a disagreement with as a mortal enemy and to truly begin treating military responses as the very last of a long line of answers.

If Iran truly wants to be a leader in their region, and perhaps the world, as Ahmadinejad claims, they will look forward to this opportunity to use the latest technology since it is safer, cheaper, and better.  Most importantly, these alternative approaches guarantee both the peaceful use of nuclear power and security in their region.  If they still refuse to change, the world would have a right to demand to know why.  

Pebble-Bed reactors are just one possible reactor type being considered in this program.  There are others, and by being an active and respected member of this partnership, Iran would finally have a chance to attain the technological leadership it says it wants and deserves.

 

Take action -- click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
Tell Obama and Clinton to work for peace with Iran, not war

Click here to see the most recent messages sent to congressional reps and local newspapers

Scott Baker is a Senior Editor/Economics Editor and Writer at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post.
Scott Baker is President of Common Ground-NYC (http://commongroundnyc.org/), a Geoist/Georgist group. He has written dozens of (more...)
 
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Which foreign terrorist organization has threatene... by Paul Sheldon Foote on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 10:08:39 AM
For an honest appraisal of Israel's political ... by Paul Sheldon Foote on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 10:17:26 AM
Without getting into a tit-for-tat debate, here is... by Scott Baker on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 11:19:28 AM
See rainn.org for the latest rape, abuse, and ince... by Paul Sheldon Foote on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 9:18:52 PM
I remember how the Israelis salivated after the 9/... by Scott None on Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 1:03:57 PM
I enjoyed reading the article until the write deci... by Soraya on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 1:09:35 PM
By writing what I did, I assumed a rational world ... by Scott Baker on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 2:32:31 PM
I am not certain if you are very naiive adn believ... by Soraya on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 3:23:18 PM
I am still with you all the way, Mr Baker. I do be... by ariadna theokopoulos on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 10:54:59 PM
Mr. Baker, Your article begins and ends logically ... by Daniel Pourkesali on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 2:33:04 PM
Despite that it seems Mr. Baker is well-meaning [b... by Moji Agha on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 3:28:43 PM
I'm saddened to see that Mr. Baker is not only wil... by Niki Online on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 3:40:11 PM
I find it very difficult to comprehend how any hum... by Massy Homayouni on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 5:27:21 PM
I'm with you, Scott Baker. Hope I got your dri... by ariadna theokopoulos on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 7:52:05 PM
ariadna theokopoulos said: “I say let'... by Cyrus Parsa on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 8:50:25 PM
Oops, my bad. I didn't know that Israel is the... by ariadna theokopoulos on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 10:24:04 PM
So much wit and intellect in one person! wow. ... by Soraya on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 10:50:49 PM
I am sorry to disagree with you, Madam. I am no ad... by ariadna theokopoulos on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 11:45:37 PM
For those who are unfamiliar with the religious re... by Paul Sheldon Foote on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 8:56:01 PM
For an honest appraisal of Israel's political ... by Paul Sheldon Foote on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 8:34:56 PM
I think you might be wrong there. I am thinking th... by ariadna theokopoulos on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 10:33:12 PM
I made no references to AIPAC.  I was referri... by Paul Sheldon Foote on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 2:43:29 AM
Mr. Foote, with regrets and all due respect, I pre... by ariadna theokopoulos on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 4:14:24 PM
I very much enjoy your BITTER humor. Thank you ver... by Moji Agha on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 11:54:42 PM
Nothing wrong with Orientalists. Edward Said almos... by ariadna theokopoulos on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 1:04:16 AM
I realize the phrase "wipe them off the map&q... by Scott Baker on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 5:31:18 AM
You don't fool me. You are NOT Mr. Baker. You ... by ariadna theokopoulos on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 10:50:18 AM
What can I say?  It was me who wrote that res... by Scott Baker on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 12:00:00 PM
You know how to reel me back in, don't you, Mr... by ariadna theokopoulos on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 3:43:26 PM
  Mr. Baker, if one is truly a progressive, i... by Massy Homayouni on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 8:01:06 AM
"I believe that, as I said in my article, the... by Moji Agha on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 2:54:36 PM
Mr. Foote balances the article very well. To fall ... by Patrick Lafferty on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 4:01:53 PM
Dear Mr. Baker:Thanks but no thanks.  Iranian... by Mohammad Ala on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 10:17:08 PM
I am wonderfully impressed by the obvious intellig... by Elizabeth Molchany on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 11:59:44 PM
You meant to have "Why IRAN should go nuclear... by ariadna theokopoulos on Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 12:53:34 PM
Mr. Baker, you are repeating what Shimon Peres sai... by Elizabeth Molchany on Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 12:41:35 AM
Sorry to be blunt but your posts are so full of in... by ariadna theokopoulos on Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 12:45:08 PM
Israel attacked and murderd Americans.  Israe... by Scott None on Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 12:44:10 PM
Look at one "neighbor" in particular: Le... by ariadna theokopoulos on Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 12:49:26 PM
At first I thought you were serious rather than sa... by Scott None on Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 12:57:30 PM
Dear wonderful commenters,I am an optimist fool. T... by Moji Agha on Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 1:46:42 PM
AT, I do humbly admit to your superior knowledge.&... by Elizabeth Molchany on Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 8:09:26 PM
Yes, Moji, I have been meditating, but not, as you... by Scott Baker on Monday, Feb 16, 2009 at 1:58:54 AM
"Do you realize America/Israel and Iran are o... by Elizabeth Molchany on Monday, Feb 16, 2009 at 9:12:08 AM
I guess you are a fan of Mutually Assured Destruct... by Scott Baker on Monday, Feb 16, 2009 at 10:11:50 AM
You are not ready for prime time, either not suffi... by ariadna theokopoulos on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009 at 7:12:15 PM
Dear Mr. Baker,The reason I believe you are "... by Moji Agha on Monday, Feb 16, 2009 at 6:18:10 PM