Iran's mastery of managing and expanding IR1 type centrifuges, which are copies of the A. Q. Khan P1 design, is recognized by several international experts, including Israelis. Logically, the best way forward in order to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state is to simmer down threatening remarks by the White House and find a way to reach an agreement that will abide by the governing international agreements that both Iran and US have agreed to follow. Unfortunately, the unbearable pressure from Israel's strong lobby groups and a growing list of senators and congress representatives that get their marching orders from these groups, have made any sensible approach to dealing with Iran's peaceful nuclear program close to impossible.
The Obama team's new phrase in referring to Iran's nuclear program is: "Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapon capability," though this disagrees with the US intelligence community's assessment of 2007, as well as international inspectors' evaluations since 2003. Major players in the US congress continue their dissemination of misinformation to the general public in concert with key op-ed writers and reporters from major newspapers and networks by referring to Iran's peaceful nuclear program as a 'nuclear weapon's program'. When all corners of the US government and major news outlets continue with propagating these false assertions, it is not hard to understand why Iran has been unable to respond to the US offer for negotiation. Of course, the internal turmoil in Iran has made any progress difficult too.
Clinton's recent comments on Iran really demonstrates that the foreign policy of Obama's team has not changed much from Bush years, they just plan to lure more countries to their side against Iran by proposing to negotiate with Iran without any preconditions. If the substance of these discussions with Iran does not recognize Iran's legitimate right to continue to enrich uranium at the reactor grade level, which is much lower purity than the bomb grade, then the outcome will be even more disastrous than the past eight years.
Netanyahu's return as the prime minister of Israel has exasperated US efforts to normalize relationships with Iran. He has promised his constituents that he will use all possible options to prevent Iran from enriching uranium. Given the distance between Israel and Iran and all the complications of running such a mission, it is guaranteed that the US will be involved at some point. Such an attack will violate international laws for nuclear non-proliferation as well the Security Council Charter, resulting in a regional geopolitical and economic instability and beyond.
Publicly it has not been revealed exactly what the P5+1 have offered to Iran for the renewal of the nuclear negotiations. If this is going to be yet another proposal to suspend enrichment indefinitely in order for Iran to obtain economic cooperation or even security guarantees from the US, then the outcome will be the same; it will be rightfully rejected by Iran. If the proposal is to cut back the total number of centrifuges to the early 2006 time frame where only 164 centrifuges were functioning, it would be hard to imagine Iranians accepting such a setback after declaring industrial level enrichment accomplishment with 3000 centrifuges last year.
In order to break this logjam both sides, US and Iran, need to make some tough decisions that they have not entertained in the past, otherwise the deadline of having any agreement before G20 meeting in September will pass, resulting in yet another disastrous outcome in the US-Iran relationship.
From the US side, Obama has to follow-up on Kerry's recent opinion piece regarding the legitimate right of Iran to enrich uranium. As a key member of non-proliferation treaty, Obama has to recognize Iran's right under this treaty to continue peaceful enrichment activity. The word enrichment has to be clear and to the point without referring to any abstract phrases as peaceful nuclear energy. He has to agree to immediately eliminate sanctions related to civilian aircraft parts and new planes; this inhumane decision by US has resulted in the death of 100's of innocent Iranian citizens. Finally, he needs to move towards normalization of relationships with Iran with a well-planned timeline at the diplomatic level starting this year.
There are many left-over issues such as Additional Protocol for intrusive inspections of non-declared sites that have to be ironed out after US and Iran pass the initial point of engagement. These are very difficult issues that are at the core of mistrust between the two countries. It is a delicate and unstable situation, that if not handled with care could result in yet another war between US and a Muslim country before Obama's term is up.