Ray Takeyh has an op-ed in the NY Times in which he argues that just as the right combination of pressure forced Iran to end the Iran-Iraq war and to suspend enrichment of uranium, then "an imaginative covercive strategy" has yet to be formulated that will similarly force Iran to "negotiate and adhere to a viable arms control treaty."
His basic thesis is that pressure worked in forcing "moderates" in Iran to bend to the US will, and so similar pressure can work today, since Khamenei can be forced to "reach out to more moderate elements" who presumably will give in again on the nuclear issue.
You can literally smell the bullshit miles away.
This is just another siren call, promoting the view that if only enough pressure is piled on then the Iranians will give up their enrichment program. Sadly Takeyh is very much mistaken in not only his assessment of Iran's suspension of uranium, and the effects of "moderates" on Iran's nuclear program.
First of all, and contrary to the Washington "conventional wisdom" that we're all supposed to believe, the fact is that it isn't Iran that has "refused to negotiate." As I've pointed out before, that phrase -- Iran's "refusal to negotiate" -- is Washington DC code language for "refuses to give up enrichment" but in fact Iran has repeatedly offered a variety of compromise gestures that the US has ignored because ultimately the demand for Iran to give up enrichment is specifically designed and intended to be unachievable, since the US does not really want to resolve the nuclear standoff with Iran. Rather, the US wants to keep the issue alive as long as possible in order to have a convenient excuse for a policy of regime change.
Reza Marashi, a former State Department official, wrote about this too:
It should now be clear that U.S. policy has never been a true engagement policy. By definition, engagement entails a long-term approach that abandons "sticks" and reassures both sides that their respective fears are unfounded. We realized early on that the administration was unlikely to adopt this approach...
Former IAEA Director Elbaradei - who was labelled a "despicable person" and an "Iranian agent" by the Israelis - also pointed out that Iran was ready to make significant compromise offers that were ignored, leading to his conclusion:
I have seen the Iranians ready to accept putting a cap on their enrichment [program] in terms of tens of centrifuges, and then in terms of hundreds of centrifuges. But nobody even tried to engage them on these offers.
They weren’t interested in a compromise with the government in Tehran, but regime change – by any means necessary.
Secondly, Mr Takeyh is also pushing the conventional -- and quite false -- view that it was the coming of a "hardline" Ahmadinejad that caused Iran to end suspension, whilst the "moderate" Khatami had sustained the suspension. He conveniently forgets two points: first, that the re-starting of enrichment was announced under Khatami, before Ahmadinejad's election victory (the actual restart of enrichment merely coincided with Ahmadinejad's taking office, but that was merely because Iran agreed to delay the restart of enrichment for a few weeks while the IAEA monitors re-set up their systems. Plans to remove the IAEA seals on the suspended enrichment program happened were announced in July 2005, while "moderate" Khatami was still in power, and he had even started warning the EU3 that Iran would restart enrichment a year earlier (he left office in August 2005, which coincided when Iran initially started removing seals, which began in earnest in Jan 2006.) In fact, the "moderate" Foreign Minister of "Moderate" president Khatami made it quite clear that Iran had absolutely no intention of giving up on enrichment, as far back as July 2004.
And the second point Mr Takeyh conveniently forgets is WHY the suspension of uranium enrichment in Iran ended: Iran had initially agreed to the suspension as a good faith gesture of to the EU-3 during the course of the Paris Agreement negotiations, according to which the EU-3 were supposed to come back with an offer to Iran that while addressing the EU-3's purported concerns of weapons proliferation, also recognized Iran's right to enrich uranium. The EU-3 ambassadors were specifically told by the Iranian side that giving up uranium enrichment was "not on the table" and not part of the deal, which is why the US did not initially welcome the Eu3 endeavor and refused to back it. Unable to get US support, what did the EU-3 do then? They dragged on the process for close to three years instead of the envisaged 6 months, and finally when pressed by Iran's threats to restart enrichment, they came back with an offer that diplomats characterized as an empty box in pretty wrapping, and which demanded a permanent halt to enrichment in Iran. (And predictably, when Iran restarted enrichment, they had the gall to accuse Iran of "violating" the Paris Agreement, thus gaving themselves a face-saving way out of the deal.)
In short, Mr Takeyh, the Iranians moderates are just as insistent on Iran's right to enrich. They were taught a nice lesson from the last time they suspended enrichment when they were embarassed by the EU-3 attempt to cheat them, and aren't about to make that same mistake twice. If you're trying to sell a policy of continued sanctions and pressure on the theory that "Hey, it worked in the past with the moderates and it will work again", well, sorry, it isn't likely to work again.
In short, I'm sorry Mr Takeyh but you can't go back to 2005.