The moment of truth is near for an effort to strike a deal that would allow Iran to obtain nuclear energy for peaceful uses without being able to develop nuclear weapons. There are signs that many countries are on the same page, recognising that Iran is almost certainly pursuing a nuclear weapons capability but cooperating to seek a bargain that would compensate Tehran for giving up its nuclear programme.

President Bush’s willingness to work with other governments is welcome. The need to depend upon the credibility of allies is currently on display in the case of a stolen laptop computer from Iran whose contents were shown last summer to officials at the IAEA. Those files contained an enormous quantity of material including nuclear warhead designs, triggering mechanisms, and simulations that could hardly be interpreted as anything other than evidence of a clandestine nuclear weapons programme. The only problem is that the laptop and its contents are being provided by the same administration that once pretended Saddam’s WMDhad been revived.

Because it is crucial that Iran be kept from acquiring nuclear weapons without resort to the use of force, US needs to enhance the credibility of its case against Tehran by continuing to cooperate with the largest possible number of other countries.