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Iran signals openness to negotiations on nuclear program if US eases economic pressure
Left - Gage Skidmore / CCL Right - A. Davey / CCL
Iran signaled on Monday that it would be open to negotiations with the U.S. on its nuclear program if economic sanctions against it are eased.
Spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry Abbas Mousavi advised the U.S. in a statement that the best way to move forward would be a “decrease in pain and suffering of the Iranian people,” which he says is a result of economic sanctions spearheaded by the U.S. If economic relief is not forthcoming, Mousavi said, Iran is prepared to move forward with its nuclear program.
On the surface, Mousavi’s statement looks more like a threat than a capitulation. But it’s important to note that from May 2018 when the U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal until April 2019 when Trump decided to go for a complete oil embargo, Iran did not offer to negotiate with the U.S. under any circumstances.
Iran’s new strategy
The Hill pointed out that Iran’s ultimatum is designed to look like a threat, but actually shows an increased willingness to work things out with the U.S. First of all, the threat is vague and gives 60 days for the U.S. to make its own move.
Additionally, other “threatening” steps Iran has taken have been carefully calculated not to provoke U.S. ire. Even sabotaging four tankers near the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah and ordering drone strikes on Saudi pumping stations, as the U.S. recently accused Iran of doing, are considered low-level attacks that won’t hurt relations in any significant way.
Moreover, after a recent visit to Tokyo by U.S. President Donald Trump, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is now traveling to Tehran. It is said that Abe carries a message from the U.S. about where things might go in the near future. In a very real sense, negotiations have already begun.
Diplomats from other nations including Oman, Iraq, Germany, and Switzerland have also addressed U.S.-Iran tensions with Iran’s leadership. It’s important to the world that Iran not be given the opportunity to develop its nuclear program further.
It is not expected that Iran will give the U.S. everything it wants. Most nations don’t. However, key concessions are said to be on the table, and it is possible to make real progress after a year-long standoff.
Righting past wrongs
For Trump, negotiations would be a chance to fix what he considers a disastrous deal that former President Barack Obama got the U.S. into with Iran in 2015. While U.N. inspectors considered Iran largely compliant with the deal when Trump pulled out in 2018, allies in the region like Israel and Saudi Arabia claimed that Iran was lying about its intentions for nuclear development.
Indeed, athough detractors were sure that Trump’s pull-out would get us into a war with Iran, once again Trump has come out looking like the brilliant one for seeing what was really going on. Trump is not afraid to leverage U.S. power to stop problem nations in their tracks, something that Obama was never willing or able to do.
Like the recent deal with Mexico, Trump’s threaten first, negotiate later strategy seems to be speaking the language of foreign leaders who previously took advantage of U.S. unwillingness to use its power. It remains to be seen what will happen with Iran, but Trump’s forcing the issue has finally seen a response from Tehran.
It’s about time the U.S. did what it could to make things right around the world instead of rolling over and playing dead.
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