Iran nuclear issue used by US as pawn in bigger game: American professor
London, Feb 25, IRNA - American professor Scott
Lucas says he is "cautiously optimistic" about moves towards an improvement in
US-Iran relations following President Barack Obama coming to office.
Scott Lucas is Professor of American Studies at the
University of Birmingham, where he has worked since 1989. A
specialist in US and British foreign policy, he has written and
edited seven books, more than 30 major articles, and a radio
documentary and co-directed the 2007 film Laban!.
Formerly a journalist in the United
States, Scott has written for newspapers including The
The Independent and was an
essayist for The New Statesman.
Lucas is also one of the founders of
Enduring America. You can
read some of his recent articles
The approach by the previous Bush Administration was "not helpful" not just on
the nuclear issue but also on Iran's position in the region especially following
the Iraq and Afghan wars, said the Professor of American Studies at the
University of Birmingham in central England.
"I think the Bush Administration often used the nuclear issue as a pawn in a
wider chess match. They used it to keep pressure on Iran, while trying to take
advantage in Iraq by restricting Iran," he said.
In an interview with IRNA, Lucas suggested that Iran's nuclear program needed to
be discussed through dialogue and with international bodies, including the
International Atomic Energy Agency, and not by the US on its own or by pulling
the Europeans behind.
But with Obama taking over at the White House, he said that he was "cautiously
optimistic there is engagement," citing signals that the new president might be
interested in finding a diplomatic way forward not just on Iran's nuclear
program but also on wider issues.
The professor, who is a specialist in US and British foreign policy, has been in
the UK for the last 20 years. He has written and edited seven books as well as
more than 30 major articles and appears regularly on British, American, and
international radio and television.
He believed that there may have been some very quiet discussions behind the
scene privately already taking place between US and Iranian intermediaries, but
said he did not expected any major publicity until after Iran's election in
"There are also a complex set of issues," Lucas said, citing as one example the
actual need for Iran's cooperation in a new policy on Afghanistan that has been
signaled by Obama's special envoy Richard Holbrooke.
He suggested that the US would have to make some adjustment to its stance on the
nuclear issue, which has become symbolic on both sides and said he expected a
change to more of a type of cooperation.
"The question is whether the nuclear issue can be pushed to one side" in a wider
dialogue that would include not just Afghanistan but the wider Middle East, the
American professor said.
Steps to take included easing sanctions on Iran and helping the country to
develop economically. There was also the wider approach on Palestine amid
indications that the US could be moving to accepting that Hams is part of the
Lucas believed it was better for Obama not to appoint a high-profile envoy to
Iran as he did with Holbrooke for Afghanistan and former senator George Mitchell
to the Middle East.
The appointment of Dennis Ross was a "wider and very vague title" in a
coordinator role as special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia to
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he said.
"It would have been very bad start to make Ross - the envoy for Iran -because I
think he is seen in Tehran as very antagonistic - because of his relationship
with certain groups like the Washington Institute," the professor said.
"I think it is actually another sign from the administration is serious about
dialogue with Iran," he said, suggesting that diplomatic channels would be more
productive rather than through an envoy.
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