I’ve hesitated to say this right out; sometimes my ideas are pretty far off the beaten path. But I have found two others who think this way.

Why would Iran agree to the extremely restrictive controls on its nuclear program for a decade and more if its plan was to break out after fifteen years or one of the other time limits on its activities, unless it really didn’t want a bomb? And why would it avoid activities having to do with weaponization for a decade or more? Why would it put a heavy investment of governmental activity into two years of negotiations to arrive at that very restrictive agreement?

Yes, part of the motivation is to remove a heavy sanctions regime. That is undoubtedly part of it. But the sanctions are relatively recent, and most of Iran’s nuclear weapons program seems to have ended in 2003, long before the worst of the sanctions were levied. (There may not have been a complete end, but very little continued beyond that; I’m working on another post on that subject.)

This afternoon, on Twitter, Laura Rozen was musing about the same thing. I agreed with her.

And then I found this podcast from Gary Sick, who negotiated with the Iranians back in 1979 and is now at Columbia University. He makes the case that if the Iranians wanted a bomb, they would have just gone ahead and made one. They wouldn’t have bothered with two years of negotiations, with the preliminary agreement, and now with the very restrictive and highly monitored Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The Iranians may have had a nuclear weapons program at one time, but they are now willing to give it up. Can anyone come up with another explanation?

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