The report, titled “In Heavy Waters Iran's Nuclear Program, the Risk of War and Lessons from Turkey,” says while it is widely acknowledged in the West that war could have devastating consequences, the current policy of the Western countries that consists of introducing tougher sanctions may indeed pave the way for a military confrontation. That policy, according to the report, “has almost no chance” of convincing Iran to take a step back. “Far from a substitute to war, it could end up being a conduit to it. As 2012 begins, prospects of a military confrontation, although still unlikely, appear higher than ever,” the report, made public on Thursday, says.
Iran said at the weekend that talks with the group of P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, over its nuclear program will be held in İstanbul, although when the talks will take place remains unclear.
The ICG report said the talks could offer a chance to avoid a military confrontation. “For that to happen, however, a world community in desperate need of fresh thinking could do worse than learn from Turkey's experience and test its assumptions: that Iran must be vigorously engaged at all levels; that those engaging it ought to include a larger variety of countries, including emerging powers with which it feels greater affinity; that economic pressure is at best futile, at worse counter-productive; and that Tehran ought to be presented with a realistic proposal,” the report said. “If it is either sanctions, whose success is hard to imagine, or military action, whose consequences are terrifying to contemplate, that is not a choice. It is an abject failure.”
Turkey, which disappointed its NATO ally United States when it voted against sanctions targeting Iran as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2010, calls for a negotiated settlement to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program and says sanctions will further exacerbate tensions, pushing Iran to further harden its stance.
Turkey also teamed up with Brazil again in 2010 and managed to broker a deal with Tehran, under which Iran would deposit 1,200 kilograms of low enriched uranium (LEU) in Turkey and, in return, would receive 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched fuel for its reactor. The deal, however, failed as it was quickly snubbed by the West.
“Turkey cannot solve a three-decade old crisis of confidence between Iran and the US," Hugh Pope, Crisis Group's Turkey/Cyprus Project director, said. "But a world community in desperate need of fresh thinking could benefit by testing Ankara's assumptions about how best to deal with Tehran.”
“Today, with news that Iran has responded to the P5 + 1's offer of talks, a new opportunity for diplomacy might have arisen. It should not be squandered. The parties would be well inspired to take a page out of Turkey's playbook and pursue a meaningful and realistic initiative,” the ICG report says.