“US-Iranian engagement: the view from Tehran”

“US-Iranian engagement: the view from Tehran”
June 2, 2009, Analysis by International Crisis Group
     In an analysis based on interviews with Iranian officials and analysts, International Crisis Group reports that contrary to US expectations of radical shifts in Iran’s foreign policy, Iran seeks diversified international relations to protect its own independence. Although dialogue with the US is no longer an ideological taboo, Iran-US enmity remains an important means for Tehran to rally domestic support and suppress dissent.
     For these reasons, Tehran seeks a “grand dialogue” with the US based on broad discussions on bilateral and regional issues, targeted cooperation on issues such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and the maintenance of an overall strategic rivalry in which Iran would preserve its anti-Israel posture. Iran’s diplomatic and economic relations with some European countries are offered as a model for a “respectful rivalry” between Iran and the US.
     However, Tehran remains highly suspicious of US intentions and continues to demand that the US respect the legitimacy of Iran’s regime and acknowledge Iran as a regional power. Tehran also considers uranium enrichment a nonnegotiable litmus test for gauging the sincerity of US engagement policy. The report finds that sanctions may be ineffective for changing Iran’s policies, writing that political independence is a higher priority than economic concerns and adding that further international pressure may cause Tehran to view US engagement as disingenuous. The report also suggests that due to President Ahmadinejad’s credentials among conservatives likely to oppose ties with the US, he may be more capable of enabling such ties than a reformist lacking the necessary political capital.
International Crisis Group

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