A chance to resolve Iran issue
Updated: 2013-01-08 07:56
By Li Hong (China Daily)
A new round of talks on the Iranian nuclear issue between the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany (G5+1) and Iran will start in January, which will be the first such meeting after the re-election of Barack Obama as US president.
No progress has been made since the last round in June because of the US presidential election and the new sanctions imposed on Iran by the US and its European allies despite the occasional expert-level contacts.
After Obama's re-election, all parties appear eager to hold the talks thanks to the mediating efforts of the European Union, Russia and China. Though no side seems to have high expectations, the talks are significant because the main parties, the US and Iran, are faced with complicated domestic and international situations.
For Iran, last year was one of unprecedented Western sanctions, which have caused a sharp decline in its oil and gas exports and therefore revenue, and depreciated its currency. More importantly, the sanctions have hit Iranian people hard, leading to frequent protests and even triggering riots.
More Iranians are complaining against the poor performance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in dealing with economic and diplomatic issues. And more Iranians have begun doubting the benefits of using nuclear energy for such a high price. They hope the government would adopt more flexible tactics and help create a friendlier international environment for Iran's economic and social development.
But despite the international pressure and the slight change in domestic views, the technical breakthroughs Teheran claims to have made in its nuclear program will give the Iranian government more room to reach a compromise. That's why Ahmadinejad's recent call for all parties to take a collaborative stance to resolve the issue should be seen as good news.
For the US, the Iranian nuclear issue is a diplomatic priority, with Obama's re-election making the US policy toward Iran more predictable. Although Israel could later force the US to change its stance, Obama now has more freedom to devise a policy toward Iran, which would basically focus on sanctions and negotiations, to avoid a war.
A new development is that Democrats and Republicans both are trying to find new ways to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. For example, Zbigniew Brzezinski, US strategist and national security adviser to former US president Jimmy Carter, recently suggested the US and Iran hold direct talks.
It was followed by a report by 38 senior US scholars, former political heavyweights and retired generals submitted to Obama, which said an "action-to-action" principle should be adopted to urge Iran, rather than only imposing sanctions, to resolve the nuclear issue. Though the sanctions have hit the Iranian economy, the report said, the US also has paid a great economic and diplomatic price. Moreover, sanctions have made common Iranians more hostile toward the US and Israel, and undermined Iranian pro-reform forces.