WHO: Hillary Mann Leverett, American University School of International Service Professor; former U.S. negotiator with Iran
James Goldgeier, Dean, American University School of International Service
Dan Arbell, scholar-in-residence at the American University Center for Israeli Studies
WHAT: Analysis for Achieving a Breakthrough or Extension of Talks
WHEN: July 15- ongoing
WHERE: American University, via telephone, in-studio
Iran publicly outlined a proposal to accept limits to its nuclear program in Vienna as the P5+1 July 20 deadline approaches. Iran seems ready to freeze its capacity to produce nuclear fuel in exchange for recognition to be treated as any country with a peaceful nuclear program and an easing of sanctions. Iran’s actions squarely places the ball in the U.S. and other Western nations’ court to make a counter proposal or to walk away. American University experts are available to discuss last minute negotiations and what each side is trying to achieve prior to July 20.
Hillary Mann Leverett, American University School of International Service professor, is author of Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran in which she argues America needs to renounce 34 years of failed policy and pursue genuine rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. From 2001-2003, Leverett was one of a handful of U.S. diplomats authorized to negotiate with Iranian officials over Afghanistan and al-Qa’ida.
About the chances for a nuclear deal with Iran Leverett says:“This is the best chance the United States has had in over a decade to reach a nuclear deal and broader accommodation with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a political order Washington has long denounced as “evil” and deserving of coercive regime chance.”
Leverett says any deal would overturn the Bush doctrine: “If an agreement is reached now on Iran’s nuclear program, the gist of it would be that the United States effectively renounces the Bush doctrine and accepts that the Islamic Republic of Iran does indeed have a right to a peaceful nuclear program, including enrichment of uranium. The key point is not the numbers of centrifuges or levels of enrichment that negotiators are dissecting; the key point is a post-9/11 American recognition that a former member of President Bush’s “Axis of Evil” can be treated like a normal state with rights and interests that need to be accommodated.”
On future prospects should there be a breakthrough, Leverett says: “Looking ahead, the best case scenario is that a nuclear deal becomes the catalyst for a “Nixon to China”-like opening between the United States and Iran, with President Obama even going to Tehran to restore the U.S. position in the Middle East and around the world as a great power capable of proactively shaping historical strategic outcomes.”
James Goldgeier, dean American University's School of International Service, is an expert in contemporary international relations and American foreign policy. Goldgeier has held positions at the U.S. Department of State and on the White House National Security Council staff during the Clinton administration.
On the chance of breakthrough agreement, Goldgeier says:“Given the stated positions of the two sides, it is difficult to see how an agreement can be reached by July 20 and thus an extension will be necessary.”
On how domestic constraints are affecting the talks, Goldgeier says:“The talks to date have signaled that each side seems serious about wanting an agreement, but each side has some hard domestic constraints that will make a final deal difficult, most notably the number of centrifuges.”
How a deal could buoy the Obama administration according to Goldgeier:“Reaching a deal would be hugely important for the Obama administration. Not only would it be a success that eluded his predecessors but it holds the potential to be a game changer for the region and US interests there. Perhaps most significantly for the administration, it would be a huge win at a time when most of the news is about the drift and lack of vision in U.S. foreign policy. Many are writing about the administration on foreign policy as if the Obama term is basically over, when we would expect instead major endeavors on foreign policy in the last two years as typically it is the domestic agenda that stalls in the lame duck period.”
Dan Arbell, American University Center for Israeli Studies scholar-in-residence, is a 25 year veteran of the Israeli Foreign Service, serving in senior posts overseas in the UN, the US and Japan, and holding senior positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Headquarters in Jerusalem. Arbell can discuss how Israel will react to the P5+1 outcome.
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