Nicholas Burns poses a false equation (“Diplomacy to the rescue,” Op-ed, Dec. 5) in contending that objections to the recent agreement between the so-called P5+1 countries (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) and Iran constitute a rejection of diplomacy and compromise.
Diplomacy is essential for managing global problems; there cannot be diplomacy without compromise, and we appreciate the efforts of the P5+1 — permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany — to reach an interim accord with Iran to stay its nuclear weapons program.
There are, however, serious questions about the agreement and whether it is, in fact, calibrated to persuade Iran to abandon its goal of an active nuclear weapons capability. Will the agreement preserve, explicitly or implicitly, an Iranian “right” to enrich uranium? Will it persuade Iran that the United States is committed to preventing it from achieving a nuclear weapons capability? Will it sustain an international commitment to maintain sanctions against Iran? And will it ensure Iranian compliance with the terms of the agreement while preventing it from advancing its nuclear weapons program?
Objections raised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as leaders of Saudi Arabia, a number of Gulf states, and congressional leaders from both parties, are reasonable and based on long experience with Iran, which has a well-documented history of deception and deceit to advance national objectives.
That is why it is essential for President Obama and the P5+1 to insist upon tangible deeds, not poetic words. Only then can we know whether Iran has embarked on a new path of cooperation and compliance, or is pursuing the same aggressive and destabilizing policies that threaten regional and global security.