Cirincione and Leonard: What to do next on Iran?

Joe Cirincione and Rob Leonard of the Ploughshares Fund have a good post up at the Hill about what the U.S. should do on Iran. They write:

The intelligence community’s views should be familiar. They have not changed much in three years: Iran’s leadership is internally divided, under severe pressure from U.S.-led international sanctions and – most importantly – undecided on whether to build a nuclear weapon. Expanding on a judgment first expressed in a Bush-era National Intelligence Estimate from 2007, [Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper recently reaffirmed that “Iran’s nuclear decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran.”

It is precisely this decision-making process that the U.S. and its allies are attempting to influence.

Despite the braying of neoconservatives and other hawks, Cirincione and Leonard think the Obama administration policies have been at least partially effective: the international community has embraced and elevated the level of pressure, and Iran’s nuclear progress has been slowed. “So we have time,” they write. “The question now is what to do with it.”

Cirincione and Leonard think the administration should “do no harm”, “turn up the engagement”, and “think creatively” in order to break the current impasse with Iran. Sound advice. Read the whole post here.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.



  1. No big surprises in this analysis. With events in the Middle East apparently moving Iran’s way, however (at least as the Iranians perceive it), it’s unlikely engagement will produce any results in the near term (and maybe in the longer run, too?). Nor does it seem sanctions are biting enough to change Iranian behavior. What to do? Leave it alone; walk away. Of course we won’t do that.

  2. True, “it’s unlikely engagement will produce any results in the near term,” but only because the US doesn’t do serious engagement with Iran. Turkey and Brazil already did a deal at the behest of Washington, only to find out afterward that Washington didn’t want a deal!

    Like Israel, which won’t negotiate when events are going its way, they refuse to negotiate when events are going against them, preferring to use negative events to build national hysteria and beef up military budgets.

    Bottom line–Iran has too much value as the bogeyman.

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