Although it remains to be seen whether Iran’s latest diplomatic ploy, assisted by Turkey and Brazil, will actually lead to any lasting agreement on a nuclear fuel swap, Tehran’s recent behavior teaches several lessons, according to Patrick Clawson, a leading Iran expert based at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
First, Iran reacts to international pressure but not so much to inducements. Iran’s resurrection of a mutated October deal that it previously had rejected undoubtedly was triggered by the imminent passage of a fourth U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution.
Secondly, Iran is prone to concoct some cosmetic diplomatic initiatives that come with multiple escape clauses so that Iran can reap the propaganda benefits of announcing agreements while keeping its options open to walk away from them as soon as they no longer serve its interests.
This is the old pattern of “cheat, retreat, and delay” that Tehran has repeatedly used to bamboozle representatives of the international community who mistakenly believe that they reached an agreement with Tehran, only to find that the unscrupulous regime has suddenly walked away from its commitments.
Clawson’s third conclusion is that Iran’s circle of diplomatic dupes is gradually shrinking because of Iran’s long record of diplomatic duplicity. In the 1990s and early part of this decade Iran was able to string along the Europeans and divide them from the United States. However, after bitter experience some European countries, notably France, now take a harder line than Washington. Even Moscow has become frustrated with Iran’s continuing deceit. Yet the Obama Administration still has not closed the door on its failed engagement offer to Tehran.
For more publications and links, see: Iran.