Iran Nuke Deal Within Sight

A resolution to the Iranian nuclear dispute is within reach, with Iran ready to accept limits on its program and many in the West willing to ease sanctions. But the real question remains whether chest-thumping politicians and pundits will let a deal go through, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

Another round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 is in the offing, as one can tell by an increase in commentary on the subject. This includes the helpful kind of comments and the nay-saying, unhelpful kind.

The outlines of an eminently reachable agreement have been clear for some time. They would include terms along the lines of what Reza Marashi has outlined and I have earlier addressed.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei meeting with a naval commander. (Iranian government photo)

An encouraging sign is that some opinion-makers who still can sound pretty bombastic about the Iranian nuclear program, such as the Washington Post editorial board, nonetheless recognize the need for sanctions relief to be part of any deal.

It would be nice if this entire matter could be handled in a low-key, straightforward way: just make the necessary trades and complete an agreement. Unfortunately that does not look as if it is possible.

The sanctions have played a role in the United States that goes far beyond the manipulation of Iranian incentives in a way that involves American politics and American psychology. In particular, sanctions have been a means for members of Congress to demonstrate their anti-Iranian bona fides by voting again and again in favor of new ways to harm Iran.

And as Trita Parsi argues, sanctions have been part of a hoped-for story of Americans being able to claim a triumph over a foreign adversary.

What is very easy to forget in antagonistic bilateral relationships like this is that the other side has similar political and emotional needs. The Iranians certainly have such needs, although they are less triumphalist and more a matter of simple respect than the corresponding American needs.

One of the most insightful commentators on the entire saga of the Iranian nuclear negotiations, the former Iranian official who is now at Princeton, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, addresses this aspect in a new op-ed. Mousavian explains why it is essential, if any agreement is to be reached, for Iran to be able to preserve what he and his co-author refer to as aberu, or saving of face. Citing past history, he also explains how this will not be the case if Iran is once again called on to make significant concessions in return for the mere promise or hope of getting what it wants in return.

So one side feels a need to crow about a victory, while the other side needs to feel that it has not been kicked in the face. To square that emotional circle, American politicians will have to get most of their triumphalist fix from what has happened already, from getting a negotiation with Iran about curtailing its nuclear program under way at all.

Members of Congress can proclaim today (and when they next run for re-election) that all those votes they cast in favor of all of those sanctions were an important part of getting Iran to the negotiating table. After saying that, they should pipe down, get out of the way, and let the negotiators strike a deal.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post  at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

16 comments for “Iran Nuke Deal Within Sight

  1. Fardin
    January 6, 2013 at 06:53

    Trita Parsipor is the agent of Islamic Republic and leader of the one powerful lobby in USA with assosication of NIAC Foundation .

    If you put the time and search in internet you may find his relation and background . However recommend you to view below link;

  2. fyi
    January 6, 2013 at 01:33

    I have to agree with Rehmat – there is no deal within sight at all – this is evidently a joint US-EU-Israel Wishful thinking.

    My sense of what is going on among Iranian leaders is that they are in combative moode and in no sense are in disarray. They have accepted an oil income for the next few years based on selling a million barrels a day.

    They believe that they and their allies in Iraq and Syria are under attack and they are fighting back.

    US and EU will not reomve sanctions even under the Marashi Deal; Iranians will take that extra income and help their allies in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsehwehere.

    The US-EU confrontation with Iran is going to continue for the next 1 or 2 generations; it will never go back to status quo anter of 2010. That world is dead.

  3. Ali
    January 5, 2013 at 19:54

    The mullahs are nothing but a bunch of no good thieves and murderers. They have the blood of millions of innocent Iranians and thousands of Americans on their hands.
    Idiots like carter and brzenski helped usher these bastards in and led to the destruction of Iran and the creation of multiple terrorist organizations
    Fools here who advocate talking to these morons should have their heads examined
    The youth if Iran want to be free from these monsters. Payback is coming mullahs

    • rosemerry
      January 6, 2013 at 12:14

      Ali baa baa!!!

  4. harry shade
    January 5, 2013 at 18:10

    Peter Gallard, If you have anything sensible on the issue why don’t you say it? What kind of stupid mathematical equation (Iran+Nuke Weapon=Armagedon) is this?

  5. EarthView
    January 5, 2013 at 15:21

    Reza Marashi’s proposal is essentially the same as Obama’s earlier ridiculous offer. The only part that Iran might accept would be to stop enriching to 20% if the West guarantees to provide it to Iran.

    As for other proposals, why should Iran close the Fordo site which is relatively immune to aerial attack? Do people think that Iranians are stupid? Besides, Fordo is under the constant surveillance of the IAEA. Also, why should Iran ship out its supply of enriched uranium? Why doesn’t Israel give up its nukes? Why doesn’t Obama stop his plan to spend $85B to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal?

    The solution to this phony dispute is self-evident. The West must recognize Iran’s rights under the NPT and must drop ALL sanctions. Iran will stop its 20% enrichment if it gets it from the West and will agree to a tougher inspection regime for a limited time, say five or ten years. That is it. If the West expects more they can just continue their stupid current policies.

    Iran is actually beating all the sanctions and, for example, has no problems in selling its oil to its Asian customers. Also, even now, about 75 European refineries are still using Iranian oil.

  6. Peter Gallard
    January 5, 2013 at 14:03

    Information from international sources:




    • sara
      January 5, 2013 at 18:19

      How can you even compare Iran to Osama Bin Laden??
      Iran is a country that has 84 million people and cares about it’s citzens well being.

      Osama was the head of a terrorist organization that was country less.

      You can’t compare the two AT ALL. This is coming from an Iranian, your comparsion is Ludicrous.

    • Robert Schwartz
      January 5, 2013 at 19:24

      I would say rather that humans and nuclear weapons don’t mix, and I’m not for nuclear power generation, either.

      Be that as it may, Pakistan is already in possession of a nuclear weapon, and the world hasn’t come to an end.

      Anyway, it remains that the U.S. is the only country to have used the bomb on populations, and the U.S. also precipitated the overthrow of the Mossadeq regime in 1953. The Iranians have a larger beef with us then we do with them. Besides the 1953 coup, there are still feeling the effects of chemical weapons which Saddam used and we provided the precursors for. Not to mention the fact that Iran would not be the first to arm atomically in the region, that they have called for a nuclear-free zone in the mid-east, and have issued a fatwa against these weapons.

      • Robert Schwartz
        January 5, 2013 at 19:27

        (wishing there were an edit function)

        there are still –Iranians– feeling the

    • Ben Wells
      January 6, 2013 at 09:15

      So I’m assuming you trust christians with nukes? Personally, I trust no group who’s in a hurry to meet their maker. Until the myths of creation are put to rest, there will not be peace. Religion just doesn’t allow for peace.

    • rosemerry
      January 6, 2013 at 12:13

      So you prefer “christians” like the USA destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki for spurious reasons? Israeli Jews who constantly threaten their neighbours, and have at least 100 nukes ready to go? Your ignorance is better kept to yourself.

      • borat
        January 8, 2013 at 09:50

        you are ignorant or chose to ignore that Israel’s neighbor hamas has sworn its destruction, along w/constant exhortations by much of the arab media. Like most on the far left or right, you can’t take anything that is part of the party line.

  7. Peter Gallard
    January 5, 2013 at 13:53

    Whoever thinks Iran does not want NUKES is a fool.

    But that is exactly the ploy of the Iranians, they are working at it Slowly, over the years.


    • rosemerry
      January 6, 2013 at 12:11

      What evidence do you have? Why on earth would Iran become as stupid and evil as Israel and the USA and attack anyone? Why get nukes when they are not usable by any rational and compassionate person or government? Who is going to invade a land of 75million for no valid reason? think agains.

    • Nelson Wight
      January 6, 2013 at 17:14

      M. Gallard, it is with great sorrow and shame for you that you would express such a great lack of knowledge and such outlandish acceptance of Zionist propaganda.

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