Cirincione at the Luxembourg Forum

In late September, distinguished experts in nuclear security, including Ploughshares' Joe Cirincione, met in Washington DC at the fourth annual meeting of The International Luxemburg Forum for Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe.  The threat of a nuclear Iran was a central point for discussion.

“We are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe,” warned Senator Sam Nunn, one of over 50 experts to attend the Forum. At this critical juncture, a range of options for dealing with Iran have been proposed--some more aggressive than others. Senior Israeli officials have since taken to calling 2011 “the year of decision,” when the West will be forced to decide its willingness to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

Joe Cirincione lead a discussion on Iran at the Luxembourg Forum.  His talk was quoted extensively in a recent article in The Jerusalem Post summarizing the events of the Forum:

According to Cirincione…the Administration has just five theoretical options for dealing with Iran, only one of which makes sense. It could “muddle along” as the US did for much of the last decade, a policy which enabled Iran’s nuclear program to take off in 2004 and which is clearly no longer viable; it could promote peaceful regime change, a gambit that risks getting the reformists discredited as tools of US policy and setting back any hope of reform; it could launch a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, a ploy which might have only limited success and which, therefore, risks legitimizing and accelerating the Iranian nuclear weapons’ program as well as sparking wide-scale Iranian retaliation that could draw the US into an unwanted third Middle Eastern war; it could go for a “grand bargain” in which the US, Iran and other nations resolve a cluster of issues including Israel-Palestine and the Iranian nuclear threat...

The final option, and the one that Cirincione purports as the most viable and effective solution, is called “Contain and Engage.” Cirincione claims that this is what the Obama Administration is doing today, putting “pressure on Iran, to back the Iranian regime into a corner and then open the door and help them find a way out.”

The Luxembourg Forum has a history of bringing together Russian and American leaders to discuss matters of the utmost importance, without being bound by formal negotiating frameworks. The Jerusalem Post confirms that the 2010 Forum resulted in a clear consensus among experts on the dangers of a “nuclear-armed Iran, but strong reticence about using force to stop it.”