Q&A: High stakes for U.S. in Iran talks
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, above, who will be represented by a delegation in Switzerland on Thursday, would relish renewed relations with the U.S., Iranian expert Ahmad Sadri said. (AP)
On the eve of rare high-level talks with Iranian diplomats on the rogue nation’s nuclear ambitions, U.S. officials hinted at the possibility of one-on-one negotiations and signaled the Obama administration’s determination for results.
The U.S. delegation, led by Undersecretary of State William Burns, will be joined Thursday in Switzerland by representatives from Britain, France, Russia, Germany and China — all set to challenge the Iranian government on its recently disclosed underground uranium-enrichment facility.
Burns is armed with the prospect of heightened economic sanctions against Iran, and though today’s talks aren’t expected to produce breakthrough agreements, the fact that the summit itself is taking place offers some hope for future compromise.
amNewYork spoke with Ahmad Sadri, the chairman of Islamic world studies at Lake Forest University in Illinois whose columns appear on Iranian.com, about the meeting.
What is the U.S. hoping to gain?
The EU and the United States are basically trying to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium. ... They say they don’t trust Iran because Iran — once it has achieved the capacity to enrich uranium — might decide to go nuclear and to weaponize.
What does Iran argue?
That they’re within their rights and lack of trust by international community is not a cause for action.
What can stop Iran?
The position of the EU, the United States and Israel is precarious. There is really little they can do. They can impose sanctions, which won’t bring Iran to its knees. It’s going to strengthen the government and weaken the people.
What does Iran hope to walk away with today?
The Americans and the EU don’t have anything the Iranians want. ... Although, Iran is portrayed as weak because they don’t have the support of the people [amid a disputed presidential election and reports of human rights abuses], so they may be amenable.
Is Iran hoping to be less ostracized by the West?
[Iranian leaders] would relish such an outcome, but frankly, I don’t think they expect it. They are prepared for tougher times ahead.