Implications of US Talks with Iran

Leading up to the international conference on Iraq in Egypt this week, the Bush administration expressed willingness to engage in talks with Iran. However, a gap exists between the interests of the international community and the interests of Israel vis-?-vis Iran.

Leading up to the international conference on Iraq in Egypt this week, the Bush administration made clear its willingness to engage in high-level talks with Iran. The third most senior official at the State Department, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicolas Burns said: "There is a choice: confrontation or diplomacy. We prefer diplomacy and we are trying to open two diplomatic channels - on the nuclear issue and on Iraq."

Iranian Hegemony - 5+1

Iran's National Security aims focus on six elements including: Preserving the stability of its regime; Exploiting its natural resources; Securing its territorial integrity; Receiving recognition as an international actor; Establishing regional hegemony; and Exporting the Islamic revolution.

Inherent tension exist between Iran's ability to achieve the first five of its aspirations, and the sixth aspect of exporting the revolution, which involves activities which destabilize other countries such as the nuclear project and sponsorship of terror and the Resistance Network. This tension is being reflected in the internal political debate taking place within Iran and can be used as leverage for striking a grand bargain with Iran.

The Grand Bargain

A political process based on a credible and viable military option, economic pressure and a grand bargain between Iran and the international community could provide a resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue. The international community could grant Iran its hegemonic goals related to regime stability, economic integration, security and regional and international status in exchange for Iran relinquishing its "rogue" behavior that undermines the international system.

However, the Reut Institute identifies a gap between the interests of the international community and the interests of Israel vis-à-vis Iran. While there is a common interest in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, international actors such as the US, the Arab world place a higher priority on stabilizing Iraq and Sunni-Shiite reconciliation there than they do on ceasing Iran's support of Resistance Network actors such as Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

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