Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis will be to reintegrate Iran into the international community, requiring a lessening of tensions and greater cooperation and transparency on the nuclear issue. Both sides must commit to this process of reintegration, which is sure to be as difficult a sell in Iran as it is in Washington. In order to make such an outcome possible, however, Iran and the inter- national community must commit to a process of engagement on all levels in pursuit of issues of mutual concern. Through a process of sustained engagement, both sides will be able to identify areas of potential cooperation and in time should come to identify an end-state that will satisfy most of each other’s demands. Iran must eventually be al- lowed to continue its nuclear development, including enrichment, while the West must insist on imposing sufficiently comprehensive safeguards to ensure the absence of weaponization work.
The experiences of past nuclear ambivalent states like Japan, Argentina, and Brazil have shown that positive foreign relations and strong international partnerships are the key to forestalling proliferation. For the moment, there is no reason to believe that an Iranian nuclear weapon is inevitable. Should the West and Iran escape the cycle of self- perpetuating hostility that has come to define their relationship over the past three decades, then the world community can rightfully expect Iran’s leaders to follow the path of peaceful nuclear technology. The current dynamic, however, is pushing the situation between Iran and the West in the wrong direction, with little hope that a catastrophe may be avoided.