No changes in Iran-US relations expected until after Iranian election

This week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton indicated they wanted talks with Iran to resume even as the US’s dual-track policy of pressure and diplomacy (translation: more sanctions) continues:

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE ASHTON: As you know, in New York, I was feeding back to the P-5+1/E-3+3 ministers on the discussions I’d been having with Dr. Jalili, who is the chief negotiator for the Iranians, on how to move forward. It is, as you know, my view that we have a twin-track approach of pressure and negotiation. The pressure you’ll have seen most recently in new rounds of sanctions from the European Union, and we continue to try and find ways to move forward on our negotiations.

Over the weekend, there was a contact between my deputy and Dr. Jalili’s deputy, and I will be making contact with Dr. Jalili in the near future. And I will continue to do everything I possibly can to move these negotiations forward, and I am pleased to do so with the full support of the ministers from the P-5+1/E-3+3, which is enormously important if we’re to make the progress I’d like to make.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me just add that we so appreciate Cathy’s leadership in a unified P-5+1 approach, our dual-track approach, as she mentioned. So our message to Iran is clear: The window remains open to resolve the international community’s concerns about your nuclear program diplomatically and to relieve your isolation, but that window cannot remain open indefinitely. Therefore, we hope that there can be serious, good-faith negotiations commenced soon.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Sadeq Kharazi, a top Iranian envoy and close adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has offered words of praise for Barak Obama’s presidency (along with critique) while stating that relations are unlikely to change until after Iran’s 2013 presidential election. (Farideh’s article, “Ahmadinejad’s Tumble And Iran’s Political Terrain“, provides crucial context to Kharazi’s commentary.)
I reckon any kind of change in bilateral relations between Iran and America impractical and precluded until the holding of Iran’s presidential election. If they have understood well that the subject of foreign relations falls under the scope of the highest authority of the Islamic regime, namely the Supreme Leader, why weren’t they ready and aren’t ready to negotiate with Mr. Ahmadinejad and to solve the issues with his government? The government and president whose days left are ending fast and who enjoys a negative position inside the American political system because of some of the slogans he has offered.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.