The United States portrays itself as committed to world peace, yet it has in fact provoked the Iranian nuclear situation.
I am not simply referring to the U.S.’s puppet regime in Iran in 1953 that sparked the Iranian Revolution creating the Iranian regime as it exists today. Rather, I am referring to a more recent trend of U.S. politicians purposefully making talks with Iran difficult.
Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, has consented to multilateral talks on Iran’s nuclear program with P5 Security Council nations and Germany. Iran seems to be taking the talks, scheduled for February 25 in Kazakhstan, very seriously.
However, the United States, and particularly Joe Biden, have undermined any positive sentiment Iran may have had in scheduling these talks. Biden says, “That offer stands, but it must be real and tangible, and there has to be an agenda that they’re prepared to speak to. We are not just prepared to do it for the exercise.”
Is this any justified way for the United States to greet progress? Is this any justified way for the U.S. to work towards its supposed goal of “peace in the Middle East?”
The fact of the matter is that these talks most likely will not bear fruits. Iran has no major incentive to collaborate with the very nations that hypocritically kept their nuclear arsenals while slapping increasingly high tariffs on Iran for its ‘peaceful’ nuclear developments (P5 nations are the only nations legally allowed to develop nuclear weapons).
However, the U.S. should take into account the very small chance that a possible treaty or agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear situation should be reached. The U.S. must use a cost-benefit analysis. The ‘cost’ of engaging in diplomacy with Iran is so minimal that it justifies the low chance of the ‘benefit’ of a nuclear agreement, a truly monumental event.
Additionally, the United States must recognize the sentiment behind this move. Iran has very selectively engaged in diplomacy with U.S. officials since the 1979 Iranian revolution. Even if these talks do not bear fruits, the mere prospect of diplomacy with Iran for the future is reason enough to pursue the talks. Now, more than ever, as Iran strikes deals with Syria, North Korea, and other rogue states, the United States must prioritize diplomacy with Iran principally for the multiple and far-reaching benefits it may have.
Finally, even if the U.S. calculates the chances of a treaty being formed or further talks progressing as minimal, the U.S. should still engage in diplomacy with Iran for the sake of its public image. The entire U.S. foreign policy is based on the idea that it is a protector of international rights and interest. If public opinion in the U.S. or abroad is swayed to believe otherwise, the U.S. foreign policy based on intervention will lose all legitimacy- in the minds of Americans and the world at large.
Despite having the world’s most powerful military by far, public opinion can often be more powerful than a military. As such, the United States needs to prove that its foreign policy in practice still holds true to the ideals on which it was built. The United States needs to resume nuclear talks with Iran with minimum rhetoric, maximum openness, and a decent level of flexibility.