The decision by the Obama administration to drop the missile defense plan in Eastern Europe is bound to have multiple and contradictory effects on the thorny issue of Iran's nuclear program. Although the decision increases the possibility of de-escalating the crisis based on a reduced threat perception, it simultaneously boxes both parties into less flexible postures that are not conducive to a compromise.

Obama's Missile Defense Decision and the Iran Nuclear Talks

By , , Briefing

The decision by the Obama administration to drop the missile defense plan in Eastern Europe was based on a revised perception of Iran's long-range missile threat. The move is bound to have multiple and contradictory effects on the thorny issue of Iran's nuclear program, which is slated to be a central subject of multilateral discussions at the opening of the U.N.'s General Assembly this week, as well as at the G-20 gathering in Pittsburgh days later.

Diminishing the threat perception of Iran's missile program from previous assessments under the Bush administration is certainly conducive to the IAEA -- that is, the diplomatic -- option for resolving the current impasse. Given the direct link between Iran's nuclear capability and its means of delivery in any threat assessment, a reduction in the latter gives more breathing room for a negotiated settlement, whereby in exchange for full nuclear transparency, Iran's adoption of the intrusive Additional Protocol, caps on its enrichment program, and other measures, the international community would consent to Iran's possession of a peaceful nuclear fuel cycle. ...

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