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11/24/10

Engaging With Iran: USIP and Stimson Center Experts Recommend a Recalibration of Efforts

(Washington) - The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Stimson Center announce the publication of "Engagement, Coercion, and Iran's Nuclear Challenge." This report is the culmination of recommendations from a distinguished group of more than 40 scholars and policy analysts, who met regularly during the past year to evaluate how the US should proceed in its strategy with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

This report comes at a crucial time, as the U.S. faces important decisions as it prepares for talks with Iran on its nuclear activities. After reviewing Iranian politics and foreign relations, the dynamics of energy in the Middle East, and US policy options, the joint study group concludes that the US should rebalance its approach to Iran, leveraging the gains achieved from sanctions by indicating a willingness to engage Iran diplomatically on a wide range of issues. 

"Engagement, Coercion, and Iran's Nuclear Challenge" is a broad prescription for rebalancing U.S. policy in a way that could increase the odds of success in the talks. Co-authors Barry Blechman of the Stimson Center and Daniel Brumbergof USIP present specific recommendations for engagement, including:

  • The necessity of the U.S. to make adjustments of comparable importance to the demands it is making of Iran.  Among other things, this means recognizing Iran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes under international safeguards.
  • An avoidance of threats of the use of force. Threatening attacks only reinforces those in Tehran who believe Iran requires nuclear weapons for its security and undermines those who argue for compromise with the international community. To this end, the US should also discourage possible Israeli air strikes.
  • Taking advantage of the leverage gained from sanctions to reinvigorate, broaden, and engage Iran diplomatically.  This renewed effort at "strategic engagement" might shift the balance in Tehran, persuading more pragmatic members of the ruling elites that it is in Iran's own interest to end its estrangement from the international community by reaching a compromise on the nuclear, and other security, issues.

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The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) provides the analysis, training and tools that help to prevent, manage and end violent international conflicts, promote stability and professionalize the field of peacebuilding. Learn more at www.usip.org

The Stimson Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan institution devoted to enhancing international peace and security through a unique combination of rigorous analysis and outreach. Learn more at www.stimson.org

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