Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Former Hostages Call for Broadened Dialogue with Iran

On the eve of renewed P5+1 negotiations in Kazakhstan, at least two former hostages of the U.S. embassy crisis in Iran have called on the United States to engage with more direct dialogue with Iran.

Print Friendly

Inter Press Service

On the eve of resumed talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany) in Almaty, Kazakhstan over its nuclear programme, two former hostages of the U.S. embassy takeover in Tehran argued that the aura of mistrust that has dogged relations for decades must be addressed.

“The ghosts of 1979 will be there and they will do their best to prevent any progress – they will haunt the proceedings, so to speak,” said retired Ambassador John Limbert at a Capitol Hill press conference Monday.

“All concerned should take steps [to address the shared issue of mistrust], particularly the governments of Iran and the United States,” Ambassador Bruce Laingen (retired), the chief of mission held hostage during the 1979 hostage crisis, told IPS.

“The two of us intrude on each other’s interests all the time. We’ve got to find a way reasonably to talk about those interests as they conflict or at least be ready to talk,” he said.

A fluent Persian-speaker and author, Limbert also urged broadening diplomatic efforts with Iran despite the constantly referenced grievances on both sides.

“The U.S. ‘two-track’ policy of engagement and pressure has – in reality – only one track: multilateral and unilateral sanctions, that whatever their stated intention and real effects, are allowing the Iranian government to claim credit for defying an international bully,” he said at the packed event, which was co-hosted by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the National Iranian American Council.

“To move forward, we must stop holding all questions hostage to agreement on the nuclear issue…The United States and Iran must open up dialogue on areas where there is political space on both sides to break the cycle of mistrust,” he said.

“The Islamic Republic, like it or not, is what it is and we have things to talk about, even if we are not friends,” said Limbert, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The Barack Obama administration maintains that “all options are on the table” to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. “But neither side wants to resort to military action to reach a solution,” said Alireza Nader, a senior policy analyst at the Rand Corporation, during an Arms Control Association briefing Monday.

“A military conflict – you can a make a very good argument – would be against the national interests of all sides,” he said.

Still, what has been assessed by most Western nuclear experts and intelligence agencies as Iran’s slow but steady move towards a nuclear weapon capability has resulted in years of cold and at times tense relations between Iran and the U.S. and Israel, as well as an ongoing “crippling” sanctions regime that led to Iran’s currency losing 40 percent of its value in October 2012, among other economic pain.

Yet Iran continues to insist that its nuclear activities are completely peaceful and has shown no sign that it will submit to P5+1 demands – most recently described as the “stop, shut and ship” demand (Iran should stop enriching uranium to 19.75 percent, shut down its Fordow plant and ship out its stockpile of its 19.75-enriched grade of uranium) – without substantial sanctions relief and acknowledgement of what Iran interprets as its right to enrich uranium according to its interpretation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Hopes for bilateral talks between Iran and the U.S. were also dashed last week after a speech by Iran’s Leader Ali Khamenei was interpreted by the Western press as a rejection of direct talks.

“The U.S. is pointing a gun at Iran and wants us to talk to them. The Iranian nation will not be intimidated by these actions,” said the leader on Feb. 7.

But some analysts contend that bilateral talks, as with progress on the nuclear issue, remains possible.

“[T]he Leader did not explicitly rule out bilateral talks. He merely voiced deep scepticism as to whether they would lead to a resolution of the nuclear dispute,” wrote Peter Jenkins, the UK’s former ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on IPS’s foreign policy blogon Feb. 8.

“To goad Iran into entering direct talks with the U.S., the Americans must come up with ways to show that they are serious about finding a peaceful solution,” Mohammad Ali Shabani, an Iranian political analyst based in London, told IPS.

“The Obama administration can do this by either taking on Congress to secure concessions, or pushing the European members of the P5+1 to lift EU sanctions,” he said.

While the P5+1 willreportedlypresent Iran with an updated proposal that will include “sanctions relief” in return for verifiable moves by the Iranians that their nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, few are expecting substantial progress during this round of talks, particularly because Iran is getting ready for its June presidential election.

The Iranians are unlikely to allow substantial nuclear progress to be made while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is president, according to Shabani, who edits the Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs website.

“The best that can be achieved in Kazakhstan is for all sides to agree on some kind of road map for how to end the nuclear crisis down the road, and agree on a series of technical-level meetings to pave the way for high-level political talks later this year,” Shabani told IPS.

“Tearing down the wall of mistrust will not be easy,” said Laingen, who first served in Iran in 1953, during the Capitol Hill briefing Monday.

“But brick by brick, every step toward that goal advances the national security interests of the U.S. and Israel and other allies in the region, which are threatened by the spectre of another war in the powder keg of the Middle East,” he said.

Jasmin Ramsey is a contributor to Inter Press Service.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has been an outspoken proponent of militarist U.S. foreign polices and the use of torture, aping the views of her father, Dick Cheney.

United against Nuclear Iran is a pressure group that attacks companies doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country’s nuclear program.

John Bolton, senior fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute and the controversial former ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, has been considered for a variety of positions in the Trump administration, including most recently as national security adviser.

Gina Haspel is a CIA officer who was nominated to head the agency by President Donald Trump in March 2018. She first came to prominence because of accusations that she oversaw the torture of prisoners and later destroyed video evidence of that torture.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state to replace Rex Tillerson, is a “tea party” Republican who previously served as director of the CIA.

Richard Goldberg is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who served as a foreign policy aide to former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).

Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has been advocating regime change in Iran since even before 9/11.

For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

Hardliners at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies are working overtime to convince the Trump administration to “fix” the nuclear agreement with Iran on the pretext that it will give the US leverage in negotiations with North Korea.

Print Friendly

North Korea and Iran both understand the lesson of Libya: Muammar Qaddafi, a horrifyingly brutal dictator, gave up his nuclear weapons, was eventually ousted from power with large-scale US assistance, and was killed. However, while Iran has a long and bitter history with the United States, North Korea’s outlook is shaped by its near-total destruction by forces led by the United States in the Korean War.

Print Friendly

Europe loathes having to choose between Tehran and Washington, and thus it will spare no efforts to avoid the choice. It might therefore opt for a middle road, trying to please both parties by persuading Trump to retain the accord and Iran to limit missile ballistic programs and regional activities.

Print Friendly

Key members of Trump’s cabinet should recognize the realism behind encouraging a Saudi- and Iranian-backed regional security agreement because the success of such an agreement would not only serve long-term U.S. interests, it could also have a positive impact on numerous conflicts in the Middle East.

Print Friendly

Given that Israel failed to defeat Hezbollah in its war in Lebanon in 2006, it’s difficult to imagine Israel succeeding in a war against both Hezbollah and its newfound regional network of Shiite allies. And at the same time not only is Hezbollah’s missile arsenal a lot larger and more dangerous than it was in 2006, but it has also gained vast experience alongside its allies in offensive operations against IS and similar groups.

Print Friendly

Donald Trump should never be excused of responsibility for tearing down the respect for truth, but a foundation for his flagrant falsifying is the fact that many people would rather be entertained, no matter how false is the source of their entertainment, than to confront truth that is boring or unsatisfying or that requires effort to understand.

Print Friendly

It would be a welcome change in twenty-first-century America if the reckless decision to throw yet more unbelievable sums of money at a Pentagon already vastly overfunded sparked a serious discussion about America’s hyper-militarized foreign policy.