Brookings Experts Discuss Iran and the P5+1 Nuclear Negotiations

On November 1, the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative and the Saban Center for Middle East Policy hosted a panel discussion to preview the November P5+1 talks in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program and to assess the outlook for the negotiations. Brookings Senior Fellows Robert Einhorn, Suzanne Maloney and Kenneth Pollack took part. Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Saban Center, moderated.

Ted Piccone: “We are at the precipice of a really crucial time on the question of Iran and its nuclear program.”

Robert Einhorn: “We’re at the verge of a leap forward in Iran’s nuclear breakout capability. And I think we have a big incentive to try to halt their movement toward the breakout threshold.”

Suzanne Maloney: “The Iranians want to make progress quickly. They want to see tangible results and compensations. This has been a clear theme throughout the decade long nuclear negotiations.”

Full audio is now available. Here are highlights of what they said during the event:

When asked about the effect on the Middle East balance of power if Iran does acquire nuclear weapons capability, Ken Pollack, author of Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy, said that “It would make things worse. The question is really by how much? … And how much could we mitigate it?” He answered: “Not by enough to make it worth going to war to prevent it, but enough to make it worth going the extra mile to try to get the deal to prevent it.”

Ken Pollack: “The problem that the administration faces and the problem for those of us who would like to see these negotiations work of course is that we have consistently seen is that there is a group of people in Congress who believe very fervently in the argument that you have to just keep squeezing as hard as you can that maybe you can get the ultimate deal if you just squeeze hard enough.”

Suzanne Maloney: “I don’t believe that mistrust is a rationale for not pursuing the talks.”