This is a marked shift from the Cold War period, where the global nuclear center of gravity lay in the all-out confrontation between the Eastern and Western blocs, which was most intense in Europe. Regrettably, Asia's nuclear developments are dominated by a superpower that has set its face firmly against nuclear disarmament.
What all this highlights is the potential for a dangerous conflict in the Middle East. The region has already become explosively volatile because of the occupation of Iraq, coming on top of the Palestinian crisis. If the U.S. and Israel persist with a hard-line approach to Iran, they could create havoc. U.S. double standards -- hostility to Iran, coupled with its support to Israel's nuclear weapons program -- are a source of great popular discontent in the region.
It is not clear how far the Russians will go in trying to persuade the U.S. to discuss such an arrangement. They, like the Chinese, adopted a weak and pusillanimously pro-U.S. stance at the IAEA. Unlike in September, when they abstained on a motion holding Iran 'non-compliant' with its obligations to the IAEA and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, on Feb. 4, they voted for a Western-sponsored anti-Iran resolution.