In a Nov. 23, 2009 file photo, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during a meeting with Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brasilia. Ahmadinejad said Dec. 2, 2009 that Iran will now enrich its uranium to an even higher level.
"Capabilities of Iran's Nuclear Program"
Op-Ed, Iran Review
December 19, 2009
Author: Kayhan Barzegar, Former Associate, Project on Managing the Atom/International Security Program, 2010–2011; Former Research Fellow, Project on Managing the Atom/international Security Program, 2007–2010
"Out of all existing challenges between Iran and the United States, the nuclear program of Iran is the sole issue which can provide a basis for two-way strategic talks between Tehran and Washington. The dominant view in Iran and the United States is that direct negotiations between the two countries will never take place due to absence of political consensus among both countries' elites. On the other hand, the nature of political power in Iran is such that none of the two rival factions could openly engage in negotiations with the United States. When the reformist government of former president Mohammad Khatami wanted to do that, the conservatives prevented him and when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intended to open negotiations, the reformists tried to bar him.
In reality, direct talks between Iran and the United States will depend on the existing issues including regional crises, war on terror, the Middle East peace talks, and the human rights situation among others which work to increase the distance between the two countries. In other words, Iran and the United States have different approaches to these issues. For example, what is the source of security in Iraq from Washington's viewpoint is empowerment of the secular elite, which is considered by Iran a threat to its security. As for the Middle East peace, the Islamic Republic of Iran spares no support for the Lebanese Hezbollah because it is part of the ideological Shiite nature of the Islamic Revolution.
Iran's nuclear program, however, is such that it works to bring the two sides closer together. In Iran, the nuclear program enjoys consensus of all elite groups at national and strategic levels and all political factions are unanimous about keeping the nuclear fuel cycle and continuation of Iran's peaceful nuclear program. Negotiations between Iran and the United States are more possible under existing conditions for two main reasons. Firstly, regional conditions have changed and Iran has more clout in the region and, thus, has more bargaining power in strategic negotiations. This will led to a kind of "political equality" in any forthcoming talks. Secondly, the Obama Administration is trying to distance from Bush's approach to the Middle East and Iran and adopt a new approach in its foreign policy toward Tehran...."
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