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By not lifting sanctions, West and Obama are helping Iran enrich uranium

The West just blew its latest chance to rein in Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Though Iran expressed willingness to compromise on key demands, by refusing to ease sanctions, the P5+1 nations offered no meaningful reciprocity, derailing the possibility of a deal with Tehran.

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European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton addresses a news conference after talks in Baghdad with the P5+1 and Iran. Op-ed contributor Yousaf Butt warns 'Unless the P5+1 nations can specify exactly what Iran would need to do in order to begin to ease the sanctions, further talks – planned for next month in Moscow – seem like a waste of everyone's time.'

Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters

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The West just blew its latest chance of reining in Iran's nuclear enrichment program.

Iranian officials expressed willingness to comply with some of the major demands being made by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the “P5+1” (the permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany). But, evidently, these countries just could not take “yes” for an answer. By refusing to ease sanctions on Iran in any meaningful way, the P5+1 offered no meaningful reciprocity in return for Iranian compliance.

The P5+1's attitude of “take but not give” directly led to the failure of the talks. And by derailing the possibility of a deal with Tehran, these global powers are essentially helping Iran stockpile even more enriched uranium.

The hawks in the West who don't seem to want to ease sanctions are helping the hawks in Iran who want to continue gathering more and more enriched uranium, which might give them a nuclear weapon option in the future. Deadlock rewards the hawks on both sides, and increases the chance of armed conflict in the Middle East.

There were two main demands being made of Iran going into the latest round of talks: that it must halt enriching uranium to 20 percent (a level closer to weapons-grade), and that it must shutter its highly secretive Fordow enrichment facility.

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