The Common Good hosted Dr. Emily Landau for a discussion about regional security issues in the Middle East. Dr. Landau focused on the global implications of nuclear developments in Iran. She lamented that current U.S. strategies do not reflect the urgency of the issue, potentially undermining negotiation efforts. “Iran must believe that if they don’t negotiate seriously, there will be consequences,” Dr. Landau emphasized. So long as the unequal negotiating situation persists, negotiations are merely a way for Iran to gain valuable time to push their program forward, not to reach a settlement.
Dr. Landau rejected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s denial of the nuclear program’s military ties, citing the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) actions to prevent public reports about the existence of a secret annex for political reasons, perhaps out of fear that such information might provoke Israel to take military action. Iran does not currently have the technology to enrich uranium to the level necessary to use it for civilian purposes, discrediting Iran’s claim that this is the objective of their nuclear program.
Tactics to prevent Iran from completing a nuclear bomb can only succeed by applying massive pressure on Iran. “That means sanctions and a credible threat of military force,” Dr. Landau said. “Saying that military action would be a disaster is undermining your own credibility,” and discounting military action as an option discourages Iran from taking negotiations seriously.
The fundamental solution proposed by Dr. Landau proposed is regime change, not just governmental change. The U.S. has a strong interest in providing more extensive support to protesters. “Those kinds of protests are the things that bring about regime change.” Although relations with Iran are complex, Dr. Landau emphasized her belief that through a combination of sanctions, support for protestors, and a credible threat of military action, the United States could reestablish viable grounds for negotiation with Iran.
Dr. Landau has published and lectured extensively on regional security in the Middle East, Israeli-Egyptian relations and the Iranian nuclear challenge. Her current research focuses on regional dynamics and processes in the Middle East and developments in arms control thinking on nuclear proliferation, including implications of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.