At last Iran might be about to take up President Obama’s olive branch. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a crowd in Kerman, south-eastern Iran, that he is preparing new proposals to break the nuclear deadlock with the West. He couldn’t resist a dig at the US but still his tone was less aggressive than last week when Obama first raised the idea of negotiations. There are also reports that Obama is ready to drop the Bush-era insistence that talks can’t start until Iran has halted uranium enrichment.
The Iran Nuclear Policy Group, a collection of progressive American academics and former US diplomats, has been calling since the fall for the US to drop that demand. They also came out last week with an excellent White Paper outlining a very practical strategy for how to resolve the nuclear stand-off. Among the paper’s points: America’s most effective leverage over Iran in the current nuclear standoff is to be found not in the bad things Washington can do to Iran, but in the good things – things Iran needs – that America can withhold. The paper builds on the insight that Iran is ultimately likely to prove far easier to co-opt than to coerce.
Effective U.S. diplomacy requires Washington to do three things, the paper says:
· Cease raising tensions by publicly hyping the Iranian threat;
· Ease tensions and build confidence through a broader opening to Iran in other areas (as the Administration is doing); and
· Re-define U.S. bargaining objectives on the nuclear file to focus on the principal risk, which, in the case of Iran, is not a “breakout” from an openly-declared, IAEA-safeguarded facility, but a clandestine re-start of enrichment and/or weapons development.
The paper is worth a read and can be found here http://americanforeignpolicy.org/
One move that Iran could do to assist with the ongoing diplomacy would be to release American freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, who has been held on dubious spying charges since January.