The weight of this burden will fall to the winner of the U.S. presidential election come November, with the next four years being the most decisive for the future of Iran and the region.
Though estimates vary as to when Iran will have the capacity to develop a nuclear weapon, the time to act appears to be approaching sooner rather than later.
How can we stop this threat? What methods can be used to persuade Tehran to abandon its course?
The debate surrounding the Iranian issue has put forth many questions but few practical solutions. Yet the truth of the matter can be discovered, not in policy discussions or intelligence briefings but on the streets of Iran.
The Iranian people are the solution.
The use of force has been effectively ruled out as an option in regards to Iran's nuclear program. A successful military strike would delay Iran's nuclear program by a few years, once again putting off a long-lasting solution. By most accounts the military option is a volatile option, with only short-term benefits.
Can negotiations solve the nuclear issue? Over the course of 10 years, the Iranian regime has used diplomacy as a means to buy time and manipulate the international community. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have given the Iranian ample opportunity to choose a diplomatic solution to the nuclear question, neither came close to a lasting deal.
If the Americans have tried to implement the "carrot-and-stick" strategy for Iran, then the mullahs in Tehran have employed the "Fox and Wolf" strategy in response. Each time Iran faces mounting pressure, the regime hopes to outfox the West by stating it is prepared to have further talks with the West.
Behind the regime's sly suggestions of diplomacy are the wolfish stances it takes at home. The regime continuously cites its willingness to confront "global arrogance" and the various tactics it uses to implement its agenda.
A more disturbing picture of the situation in Iran was painted by a report released by the U.N. special rapporteur on Iran, citing the rape, torture, and mistreatment of political prisoners in Iran.
The Iranian people recognize this regime for what it is, inhumane, corrupt and unpopular. They know that negotiations will get you nowhere. Those who have felt the wolf's bite will seldom trust the words of a fox.
The use of sanctions has had some results but far from changing the mullahs' calculus. As the country undergoes a currency crisis, the ruling factions rushed to blame place the blame on one another, as domestic criticism mounts. Further sanctions could potentially lead to further isolation of the regime and more internal strife but no guarantee for a viable solution.
For a definitive solution it is time to recognize the Iranian people and their resistance as the true representatives of Iran.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political coalition with the People's Mujahedin of Iran as its principal force, has long stood as an alternative to the clerics in Tehran. Their progressive platform is laid out by Maryam Rajavi, the leader of Iranian Resistance who as a Muslim woman stands as the antithesis to the backward and misogynistic ideology espoused by the Iranian regime.
The PMOI is calling for a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Iran.
With an extensive network in Iran, the PMOI were the first organization to reveal Iran's clandestine nuclear program in 2002. The regime blamed the organization for playing a key role in the 2009 post election uprisings, as well as the recent strikes in Tehran's bazaar. It is no wonder that the regime fears the PMOI more than any other opposition group, knowing full well the potential support it could generate among the Iranian people.
It is time to think outside of the traditional carrot-and-stick box. The next U.S. administration to take on the issue of Iran needs to come to the table with a real solution, not a short term fix.
U.S. President Barack Obama famously began his presidency by reaching out to the Iranian leadership in a letter. Perhaps the next letter should be sent to the Iranian resistance, recognizing the role it can play for the good of the people in Iran and the region.
This policy requires neither money nor troops; it simply calls for isolation of the regime, and recognition of the resistance.
The nuclear clock may be ticking but the time is past due for the West to recognize the role of Iranian people and their resistance in solving this crisis.
(Baroness Muriel Turner of Camden was deputy speaker of the British House of Lords until 2008 and is a member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom.)
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)