Khayan Barzegar: Focusing on Regional Issues Can Break the Nuclear Impasse

Kayhan Barzegar, the Director of the Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies at Tehran’s Islamic Azad University, explains how incorporating regional issues into the expected talks between Iran and the P5+1 can increase the chances for positive results:

But the reality is that successful and sustained talks should consider both above-mentioned dimensions, giving both negotiating parties the equivalent weight. Beyond legal, technical, and nuclear proliferation aspects that the P5+1 is currently focusing on, Iran’s nuclear program is also related to the issue of comprehensive security and political-security matters in the region. Therefore, ignoring the geostrategic and regional aspect of the program by the P5+1 negotiators is itself an overlook to the existing realities thus an impediment to the promotion of the talks.

Iran and the P5+1 have common interests in three significant regional issues. First, minimalist participation of the Taliban in the Afghan future government. The issue of negotiating with the Taliban has become a challenge for all P5+1 members involved in the Afghanistan crisis. Although the Taliban is anti-Iranian and anti-Shiite and Iran’s cooperation with the U.S. in overthrowing this group in 2001 was aimed at removing it from Afghan politics, Iran doesn’t have a fundamental disagreement with a managed Taliban with the least participatory role in the government. At this point, Iran, the U.S. and other P5+1 members’ common interests converge. The two sides have another common interests and that is to avoid the extremist elements in the Pakistan’s government to instrumentally use the increased role of this group to influence Afghan politics in future.

In March, the Stimson Center, an influential national security think tank, released its “Engaging Iran on Afghanistan” publication which makes many of Barzegar’s points. Read my related report in IPS News here.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.