Negotiating with Iran: How Best to Reach Success
Negotiators from the P5 plus 1—Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany—will sit down with their Iranian counterparts on April 5-6 for another round of talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program. These talks take place as concern grows in the international community that Tehran is nearing the point where it could acquire nuclear weapons capability, and against the backdrop of increasingly biting sanctions on Iran’s financial sector and broader economy.
On April 1, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted a discussion to explore what lessons international negotiators should bear in mind when facing the Iranian delegation. Brookings Distinguished Fellow Javier Solana, who led the European Union’s negotiations with Iran in his capacity as EU high representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Gary Samore, who as National Security Council coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction had principal responsibility at the White House on the Iranian nuclear question, described their experiences in dealing with Iran’s negotiators and what factors might lead to a successful outcome. Senior Fellow Steven Pifer, director of the Arms Control Initiative at Brookings, moderated the discussion.
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The question with this administration is, what will Trump see as an acceptable return for this waiver [granted to India for its trade with Russia and Iran]? Will he demand a transaction in return, some give on the trade side or a big defence deal for the US as well? Russia and Iran are sticking points, but the fact that the Trump administration is dealing with these privately is a sign of how much the relationship has changed. [Mr Trump] usually doesn’t give out freebies.
For all of us who care about preventing an Iranian nuclear bomb, what’s the best way to keep preventing that? [The JCPOA is] not perfect, but it’s something. These conventions are never based on the premise that all the parties are telling the truth, it’s about enforcement mechanisms. No arms control agreement is based in trust.