All said, the historic prognosis isn’t good. Philosopher George Santayana once warned, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” If one looks back to recent history, one finds a striking parallel between the “5+1” group's proposal and the Agreed Framework that North Korea accepted in 1994. That framework offered North Korea light water reactors, guaranteed “cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” and reduced trade and investment barriers. Approximately a year later, North Korea launched its secret uranium enrichment program.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remains determined to build Iran into a nuclear power. The development of nuclear weapons would offer his regime the surest means by which it could secure Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution.
Worse, Ahmadinejad possesses messianic visions of his being an instrument to facilitate the “return” of Shia’s “Hidden Imam.” Early in his Presidency, when confronted on costly budget provisions, he declared, “We have not come for democracy. We are here to prepare the way for the emergence of the Hidden Imam.”
According to Shia tradition, the “Hidden Imam’s” appearance would bring an end to world injustice. For Ahmadinejad, this translates into a world without Israel and the United States. In a speech before the “World Without Zionism” conference, Ahmadinejad proclaimed that Muslims could not permit Israel to exist in the “heart of the Islamic world” and asserted that a world without the United States and Israel was attainable. Only nuclear weapons could bring that world about.
Against such expansive ambitions, the “5+1” group’s proposal is likely to prove largely impotent. Iran may well pocket the gains it offers, but given the absence of meaningful penalties and strong verification measures, it is not likely to end Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Instead, it could actually provide diplomatic cover beneath which Iran would continue a secret pursuit of nuclear weapons while simultaneously benefiting from international assistance.
Don Sutherland has researched and written on a wide range of geopolitical issues.