Unworkable US Strategy Extends Diplomatic Deadlock

Unworkable US Strategy Extends Diplomatic DeadlockUnworkable US Strategy Extends Diplomatic Deadlock

A veteran US investigative journalist commented that unless Washington figures out that its strategy will not work with Iran, it should be expected that its diplomatic deadlock with Tehran will continue.

"In the context of the history of the sanctions in US-Iran relations, Iran's determination to hold out for a better (nuclear) deal is hardly irrational. If the Obama administration fails to understand that fact the diplomatic stalemate is likely to continue," Gareth Porter wrote in a recent article for the Middle East Eye.

Iran and its international negotiating partners – the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – are in talks on a comprehensive settlement to the long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, with a view to reaching a political agreement by the end of March and finalizing the details of the final deal by a June 30 deadline. Iran says under any accord the sanctions on the country must be lifted swiftly.

Pointing to US President Barack Obama's recent remarks that Iran should have the "political will and desire to get the deal done" and that he is not sure that it is going to happen as Iran has its "hardliners" and "politics", Porter said, "The idea that Iranian agreement to US negotiating demands is being held back by 'politics' is a familiar theme in US public pronouncements on these negotiations."

"But that is a self-serving understanding of the problem, and it reflects a much more profoundly distorted view of US-Iran relations on the nuclear issue. The premise of Obama's remark was that US demands are purely rational and technical in nature, when nothing could be further from the truth… (But) Iran is acting irrationally in refusing to accept that US demand."

  Negotiating Cards

The independent journalist said the fact that in dealings with Iran the US had tried to "keep all its cards" but "wanted Iran to discard its cards" caused Iranian officials to reach the conclusion that the US was seeking to force Iran to accept an agreement on normalization of ties under which Washington would continue to hold the sanctions over Iran's head, adding that the Iranian analysis implied that it needed to accumulate more negotiating cards to have successful talks with the US.  

He explained, "That was the point at which Iran's nuclear program intersected with its strategy for negotiating with the United States. Iran was planning to build a uranium enrichment facility within a few years. The United States chose to interpret such a facility as evidence of a covert nuclear weapons program, but the evidence indicates that (Iranian officials) were actually counting on that enrichment program to provide it with stronger cards with which to negotiate with the United States."  

"(Iranian officials) knows very well that this is the opportunity to play Iran's nuclear cards in order to get the sanctions removed. But the United States appears to be using its sanctions card to force Iran to accept a reduction of roughly 75 percent in its enrichment capacity and not even offering to lift all sanctions in the short run even if Iran caves in."