A U.S.-Iran Game of Nuclear Chicken

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  • Banish the ‘Czar’ as a Title

By most accounts, Iran is closer to being able to produce a bomb today than at any other point in the two-decade-long saga of its nuclear program.Credit…Vahid Salemi/Associated Press

To the Editor:

Re “Iran, Digging Tunnels, Fans Nuclear Fears” (front page, June 17):

The diplomatic deadlock over Iran’s nuclear program has all the ingredients of a coming escalation. The United States and Iran, historical adversaries deeply wary of one another on the best of days, are engaged in a game of chicken. Both refuse to budge from their positions and expect the other to blink.

But neither side has a better alternative to re-entering the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. Because of high oil prices and China’s willingness to buy its crude, Tehran may believe that it can get by if the talks collapse. But Iran can’t bank on current market dynamics holding for a long period.

The likelihood of even stronger U.S. sanctions will complicate Iran’s ability to circumvent them — and the European Union, which previously opposed Washington’s sanctions but begrudgingly went along with them, will be active participants after blaming Iran for spoiling the diplomacy.

The U.S. interest is also best served by wrapping up these negotiations successfully. The maximum pressure strategy on Iran was an indisputable failure; doubling down on it will hurt Iran’s economy but is highly unlikely to force Tehran into changing its nuclear policy.

Cyberoperations are at best short-term holding patterns, and Iran would retaliate by rebuilding and hardening its nuclear facilities. A military operation would open a Pandora’s box, increasing the risk of a war the U.S. doesn’t need.

For the U.S., the best solution is right in front of it — even if it will entail difficult trade-offs.

Daniel R. DePetris
New Rochelle, N.Y.
The writer is a fellow at Defense Priorities, a foreign policy think tank in Washington.

Banish the ‘Czar’ as a Title

To the Editor:

As a descendant of people who were persecuted by the Russian czars, do we really need to use that word when trying to confer a title or power? We’ve had Covid czars and transportation czars, to name just two. In light of the current state of the world, isn’t it time to delete that word from our lexicon of bestowed monikers?

Liz Ross
Windsor, Vt.

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