As the United States closed out its election season heavily concentrated on domestic economic concerns, unemployment and job growth, it’s important not to lose sight of issues that resonate at the international level. While the United States is largely focused on getting its economy moving forward, Americans should push for their government to continue leading global opposition toward Iran’s nuclear program. While sanctions on Iran’s central bank have taken their toll on the Iranian regime, it’s clear that more must be done to ensure that Iran does not achieve nuclear capabilities.
Throughout the election season, American leadership was noticeably quiet when it came to discussing efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear developments. Meanwhile, Israel has been working with the international community to advance further cooperative efforts. In a joint appearance, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and French President Francois Hollande stated that while the current round of international sanctions is adversely affecting Iran’s economy, it’s equally clear that Iran has continued its nuclear program.
The international community has already taken several critical steps on this issue. First of all, it is now widely accepted that Iran’s nuclear program isn’t solely intended for the creation of civilian power, but indeed exists with the intention of developing weapons. Additionally, the international community has come together around the implementation of economic sanctions levied against the Iranian regime. Another important step was taken Wednesday when Hollande indicated agreement with Netanyahu that further sanctions against Iran should still be implemented by the European Union in order to further curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
However, after all of the progress that has been made, there still exists serious discord among members of the international community regarding how to ultimately end Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Namely, in order to stop Iran’s nuclear program, members of the European Union are hesitant to open the door to military action as a means of last resort. While Hollande and Netanyahu showed unity on the issue of sanctions, the French President refused to endorse Netanyahu’s view that it would still constitute “a relief” if Iran were militarily prevented from acquiring nuclear arms.
Instead, Hollande pushed for direct negotiations with the Iranian government without preconditions, a strategy that’s perilous at best, given Iran’s propensity not to negotiate in good faith and the Iranian leadership’s history of irrational decision making. Indeed, a rational actor facing economic sanctions, such as those currently faced by Iran, would surely demonstrate a willingness to end their nuclear weapons program, wouldn’t they? In order to be effective in such negotiations, the international community must establish a credible threat of military action against Iran if they refuse to make concessions. Otherwise, Iran is in a position where, given their previous intransigence, they have no real incentive to negotiate.
For all of these reasons, it’s critical that Americans push the government to outline a clear strategy for ending Iran’s nuclear program. America must encourage the international community to keep all options on the table when dealing with Iran. Israel doesn’t wish to engage Iran militarily without cause. Rather, they seek to wait until all other options are completely exhausted in stymieing Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. It’s critical that the international community takes this stand in order to maintain a united front against Iran’s nuclear program. Only then will the threat of military action be credible enough to induce Iran to begin making concessions, should the next round of sanctions be unsuccessful. America’s diplomatic leadership is critical in standing with Israel and their position against a nuclear Iran. As such, the time is now for Americans to ask their government to lead in opposition to Iran. Though election season can lead our nation to be insular, the Iranian threat continues to pose danger nonetheless and must be a priority for our elected leaders.
Max Heller is a Business senior.