Iranian Policy toward Direct Nuclear Talks with the U.S.

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall - Different voices may be heard in Iran regarding direct talks with the United States. Khamenei and his spokesmen, including his representatives in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), firmly oppose such talks or engagement, claiming they hold no benefit in terms of the Iranian interest. On the other hand, elements within intelligence, the Majlis (parliament), and the IRGC maintain that under certain conditions direct talks could be held with the U.S. This behavior is part of the Iranian tactic of projecting internal division in order to gain more time for promoting further components of the nuclear program and increasing Iran's bargaining power vis-a-vis the West. Meanwhile, Iran makes use of and interprets the voices in the West calling for compromise and continued adherence to using diplomatic channels to sustain its delaying tactics over a fresh round of nuclear talks with the 5+ 1 group. The closer Iran gets to the June presidential elections, the harder it will be for its leadership to deal with the sensitive issue of direct contacts with the United States and to commit themselves to any sort of significant engagement with Washington. One of the main reasons Tehran is against direct talks with the United States, at least at this stage, is the sense that Iran now senses and projects that it has the upper hand in the contest with the U.S. over regional hegemony and the reshaping of the Middle East according to Iran's Islamic revolutionary model. In light of these facts, Iran regards military nuclear capability as its greatest prospective asset for countering the West in various domains, despite all the difficulties this entails. Thus, Iran will not hasten to renew the dialogue with the United States, and will want to engage in such talks only from a position of strength. The writer, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the Terrogence company.

2013-01-17 00:00:00

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