Negotiating with Iran

Washington has indicated it plans to offer Tehran a “serious” offer on the nuclear dispute. Washington is evidently willing to moderate (not call off) its economic war against Iran in return for Iran effectively accepting second-class citizenship on the nuclear issue. Even though Iran has the right to conduct nuclear research, it must cripple its research program and even then Washington will continue to conduct economic warfare against Iran. That is not a serious offer and certainly will impress no one in Tehran. It looks insincere and will be so interpreted.

Iran so far is playing, if just barely, by the nuclear rules. Compare this to nuclear rogue Israel with its regional nuclear monopoly and massive stockpile of bombs. Yet, if Iran concedes its right to do research and accepts uniquely discriminatory rules, what is it being offered in return? Continued, but less stringent economic warfare designed to cripple its economy and, presumably, bring about regime change. If a mugger is smashing you in the face and offers, in return for your money, to continue hitting you, but less vigorously, will you agree?

Tehran, at an absolute minimum, surely wants security and equal treatment. Washington is currently conducting economic warfare against Iran. For a deal that will attract Iran, that Iran will be willing to adhere to, Washington must certainly offer to terminate its campaign of economic warfare, but that only removes the negative; in other words, it halts the mugging. It offers Iran absolutely nothing positive. To be positive, attractive, an offer must surpass neutral, and that for Iran means addressing its national security and its desire for international equality. The easiest approach for Washington is 1) to announce the goal of a regional nuclear regime of equality for all and offer to negotiate with Iran and all other regional states the implementing conditions, perhaps starting with offers by regional states to demonstrate nuclear transparency and 2) to state that countries foregoing nuclear arms are guaranteed freedom from nuclear threats. Washington of course also wants a deal that surpasses neutral, that is positive and attractive. Nuclear transparency ought to fill the bill…if Washington is sincere. If, conversely, Washington’s minimum demand is actually Iranian surrender, Iranian acceptance of nuclear discrimination and submission to U.S. global rules and regional Israeli military hegemony, well, that is another matter, and Iran will no doubt continue to resist until such time as Washington decides to launch a war of aggression against it.

For Washington to offer to continue, but moderate, its economic warfare against Iran is a non-starter, especially during Iranian election season. Until Tehran is offered security and equal treatment, we will never find out if it is willing to settle for that. It may not, but at least we ought to put Tehran to the test.

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