In This Review

The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir
The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir
By Seyed Hossein Mousavian
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2012, 600 pp

From 1997 until 2005, Mousavian was Iran’s lead negotiator in talks between the Islamic Republic and the international community over Iran’s nuclear program. But he broke with the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which then forced him out and accused him of espionage. He left Iran and took a position as a research scholar at Princeton University. Mousavian has produced an analysis of the situation free of hyperbole or bombast that contrasts the bargaining strategies of Iran’s pragmatists, of whom Mousavian is a proponent, and its hard-liner “principlists,” represented by Ahmadinejad. Despite his political persecution, Mousavian is a staunch defender of Iran’s basic goal of mastering the nuclear fuel cycle, and his book leaves the reader with the strong impression that the West is not dealing with a set of messianic lunatics in Tehran. He laments that the United States and other Western powers have made demands of Iran that go beyond the requirements of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. While conceding some Iranian deceptions, he argues that they were justified because Iran was denied the technical support guaranteed by the treaty. Like other observers, he suspects that what the United States really seeks in Iran is regime change, not an agreement on the nuclear issue.