IPCS Discussion

International Crisis Group (ICG) Report: Iran’s New President and the Nuclear Talks

03 Sep, 2013    ·   4105

Pratima Koirala reports on the review of the  International Crisis Group (ICG) Report, Iran’s New President and the Nuclear Talks

Pratima Koirala
Pratima Koirala
Research Intern
Initial Remarks
Prof PR Chari, Visiting Professor, IPCS:

Prof Chari found the ICG Report very well researched and of high quality. At the same time, he also stated that the footnotes were too elaborate and made the reading process difficult.

He agreed with the conclusion of the report; believing that Rouhani’s ascendance may signal a change in style but it’s very unlikely to signal any change in the substance of Iran’s basic policy in regard to its nuclear option.

Prof Chari pointed out the interesting interplay between the US and Iran in terms of sanctions and dialogue. He said that the interplay between sanctions and dialogue will purge debilitating sanctions against Iran.

Prof Anwar Alam, Centre for West Asian Studies, JMI, New Delhi:

Prof Alam primarily focused on the new leadership and the ICG report which stressed the expectations of significant progress in negotiations on the nuclear profile. Historically, ten rounds of negotiations took place between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany). Prof Alam argued that the level of sanctions has grown at each stage of negotiation without any kind of resolution.

For him, the overall thrust of the report visualises flexibility on both Iran and international partners as Rouhani takes office and comes face to face with myriad domestic and foreign challenges. Prof Alam believes presidents have their own limitations in pushing their ideas. The Report was therefore very realistic. Is there any congruence between the Iranian imagination of nuclear technology and the West’s imagination of it?

Another question posed by Prof Alam was what might be the regional security considerations for Iran, because how Iran sees the whole region links up with its nuclear policy. He noted that this was missing from the report.

Rouhani is seen as reformist; but he is also very cautious about the conduct of Iranian foreign policy. Nuclear issues are a matter of national pride for Iranian people - no politician in Iran is likely compromise on nuclear issues.

Prof Onkar Marwah, Visiting Faculty, JNU:

The biggest question is how much Tehran is willing to pay for its nuclear ambitions. How much freedom is Tehran to surrender? What are its options? There are three issues: political, economic and military.

Prof Marwah listed out some points for Iran to find a way out of the nuclear crisis:
First, now is not the time to ramp up sanctions. What modality can be worked out for direct interaction between the US and Iran? Needless punitive measures should be avoided and projecting some good-will would help both the countries.

Second, multilateral talks between Iran and the P5+1, with the Supreme Leader himself displaying habitual skepticism, has suggested openness to bilateral contact as has the US administration.

Third, at a substantive level, some changes to the present approach should be considered as a means of testing the potential opportunity presented by Rouhani’s election, in addition to a slightly more attractive deal on the 20 per cent enriched uranium. The purpose would be to make clear the extent to which Iran could maintain and develop a civilian nuclear programme, including a limited and intrusively monitored enrichment capability.

Fourth, the scope of discussions between the US and Iran ought to be widened. Tehran is seeking to pursue a military nuclear programme; its motivation surely has been grounded in security rather than economic concerns. However, the new Iranian administration might be prepared to make some concessions in order to obtain sanctions relief.