Bookmark and Share

Unified Panel Calls for Engagement with Iran

10/31/03 By Samir Fayyaz, National Iranian American Council

Washington, Dc, October 29, 2003 - Several Iran and security experts called for greater U.S. efforts to resume dialogue with the Islamic Republic at a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on Tuesday. The panel of experts, who followed Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's own deposition, was represented by President & CEO United Nations Association of the United States of America William Luers, Dr. Nasser Hadian a visiting professor of political science at Columbia University, Dr. Anthony Cordesman Arleigh A. Burke Chair at the Strategy Center for Strategic & International Studies, and Robert Einhorn senior advisor at the International Security Program Center for Strategic & International Studies.

William Luers was the first to offer an analysis, stating rather glibly that because the United States dismantled two of Iran's greatest threats in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Islamic Republic is "more confident" today than it has been since the reformist movement blossomed five years ago. Mr. Luers, himself a staunch multilateralist, recommended that the United States "engage Iran," and that confrontational tactics entertained thus far "take us nowhere."

Mr. Luers suggested that the United States and Iran meet through the United Nations where issues of mutual interest must be placed at the fore of discussions. In a somewhat shocking statement Mr. Luers asserted that one of the major roadblocks in processing meaningful dialogue with Tehran has been the Bush administration's use of jingoistic rhetoric, which has persuaded Iranian officials that the U.S is "only interested in regime change." Mr. Luers concluded by stating that the only way for conditions to improve was through "human contact," and that "we must have access to that (Iranian) society."

The sole Iranian on the panel Professor Nasser Hadian called U.S.-Iran relations a "mutual failure," and echoed Mr. Luers recommendation in calling for a thawing of tensions between the two nation-states. Dr. Hadian spent some time discussing the competing Iranian domestic views of their alleged nuclear weapons program. Dr. Hadian suggested that although a minority of Iranians support its acquisition of nuclear weapons, this group's interests and concerns should be, at a minimum, addressed by the United States and the International Community, rather than reflexively condemned.

Anthony Cordesman's candid-albeit gloomy- remarks proved to be the most forthrightly critical of the Bush Administration. After briskly downplaying the success and vigor of the reform movement in Iran, Mr. Coredesman launched into a scathing diatribe over the effectiveness of inspections regimes and the presiding Senator Lugar's calls for "super inspections." Mr. Cordesman doubted that we can ever fully terminate Iran's nuclear weapons program, or determine its motives in a milieu of suspicion and mutual antipathy exacerbated by the United State's "stupid" sanctions regime, flirtations with the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq), and rhetorical assessment of Iran as "evil."

Mr. Cordesman also suggested that the U.S. "stay as far away from the Shah's son as possible," and wondered aloud if the "corrupt" (sic) Pahlavi's had any redeeming qualities. In line with the panelists that preceded him, Mr. Cordesman suggested strongly that the U.S. "have as much informal dialogue with Iranian regime as possible," and even went as far as saying that "we made a mistake breaking off formal dialogue with Iran."

Robert Einhorn used his allotted time to discuss the intricacies of Iran's NPT arraignment and "durable solution" to ameliorating its nuclear aspirations. He commenced by stating that a European-Iranian nuclear agreement would not have been possible without U.S. pressure; perhaps the most flattering comment directed at the Bush administration made from the panel.

Mr. Einhorn recommended that finding Iran in non-compliance of its NPT agreements in November would be a diplomatic mishap on the United States part. Instead, Mr. Einhorn suggested that the U.S. launch a step-by-step engagement process with Tehran with the purpose of quelling its nuclear aspirations with guarantees of assistance in acquiring benign nuclear technologies.

NIAC's mission is to promote Iranian-American participation in civic life. Iranians-Americans deserve to make informed decisions on matters that affect them, and NIAC aims to facilitate this by bringing transparency to these debates. Our intent is to report on policy conferences and pieces of legislation as objectively as possible. NIAC, itself, as an organization, has no position on these debates. Our function is to provide Iranian-Americans with the necessary knowledge and tools to be able to participate in decision-making according to their own views.

The National Iranian American Council is a Washington, DC-based non-profit educational organization promoting Iranian-American participation in American civic and political life. For more information, please visit, email NIAC at or send a fax to 202-518-6187. NIAC is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization. All donations to NIAC are tax-deductible.

© Copyright 2003 (All Rights Reserved)