More thoughts on the difficult Iranian problem
The first is that the US and the IAEA have not conclusively proven to the world that Iran has, or is developing, nuclear weapons. There are indications that some progress has been made, and lots of banter on both sides, but no Smiling Buddha or Bikini Atoll (and thankfully no Hiroshima or Nagasaki) to conclusively settle the issue. In order for the international community to sign on for real action, be it military or economic, particularly if it is headed up by the Americans, they will require hard proof. This is one of the many harvests that the US is reaping thanks to their unilateral efforts in Iraq and provides the Iranians with a fair bit of diplomatic wiggle room.
Second, continued pressure on Iran likely plays into the political hands of President Ahmadinejad. While average Iranians would prefer a reformist government to the present ultra-conservatives, they will rally around the president when confronted with an international threat. He will likely resist a negotiated settlement because of this. Traditional negotiating techniques are made that much more difficult when the demands of one side move around.
I find this pretty unlikely. I mean, what kind of maniac would threaten world peace for the sake of solidifying his domestic base? (I have apparently had a problem inferring sarcasm in past posts, so just for those that are going to comment on this, I'm trying to be funny. I must write like John Kerry speaks.)
The article also offers a couple of approaches that might be taken that might result in a solution.
The first is to create a type of nuclear probation in which Iran is allowed to have peaceful nuclear technology, which by the NPT they have every right to, in exchange for international inspectors at all atomic sites indefinitely. Other facilities (military and "dual-use") will be available for inspectors at all times. If inspectors are refused or discover something untoward, the issue would then be brought directly to the security council for immediatel action.
Secondly, since Iran demands that all nuclear enrichment occur on their own soil, then let it be, but only if all enrichment activies are overseen, perhaps even performed, by an international consortium. This seems a bit facile to me, simply because "on our soil" most likely means "under our control", and this option would leave control in foreign hands. I don't think it would be acceptable to the mullahs.
However, if the Iranian government is only playing to the home crowd as the article suggests, or if this is all just a smokescreen for an economic game, as others have suggested (like, say, me and Dan, noted non-experts), the options for solving the problem cleanly quickly shrink.
[Edited to remove a few typos. My