4 ways US and Iran can make nuclear talks work

The Moscow talks on Iran’s nuclear program ended in stalemate June 19, as both cynics and optimists anticipated. While low-level experts will meet in July, the next set of sanctions against Iran are scheduled  to kick in within weeks, arguably restarting the whole negotiating process. The next time around, the parties should consider broadening their approach in these four ways.

4. Help from friends

Most talks have involved the permanent five members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany (the "P5+1"). These countries either side with the US position on Iranian intransigence (UK, France, Germany), or share Iran’s view of its own sovereignty and even benefit from the standoff (Russia, China). There are no participants in the talks that bridge the gap.

Yet a number of countries find themselves, often uncomfortably, in the middle of the two, and hope for an understanding between Washington and Tehran.

In 2010, Turkey and Brazil joined forces to broker a pact in which Tehran agreed to limitations on its nuclear program that President Obama had previously endorsed. (Washington nonetheless rejected the deal for being too little, too late). Similarly, while hosting America’s Central Command military base, Qatar explores gas fields with Tehran and hopes to include Iran (and Israel) in a new Gulf security arrangement. And India has economic, political, and strategic interests with both Tehran and Washington, making it an important interlocutor.

Not only can these and other countries provide a safe political space for both sides, but they can also tangibly help solve the nuclear problem and its related issues. They can, for instance, host an international reprocessing center to store spent nuclear fuel; they can invest in Iran’s energy sector to bolster trade, among other incentives and restrictions.

If there is to be any progress in the region, diplomacy ought to be given the attention and resources it deserves.

Neil Padukone is a fellow at the Takshashila Institution and the author of a forthcoming book on the future of conflict in South Asia.

4 of 4

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.