Middle East

How to Engage Iran (If You Must)

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Ilan Berman

After months of dithering and delay, the Iranian government appears to have grudgingly accepted the U.S. president’s diplomatic overtures. Just shy of the deadline for dialogue set by the White House, the Islamic Republic has announced its readiness to offer new “proposals” for talks over its nuclear program.

The move is a political victory of sorts for Obama, who has made “engagement” with Iran a centerpiece of his Middle East policy. But it might end up being a Pyrrhic victory. If true to form, Iran will likely try to use the upcoming talks with Washington the same way it did previous ones with Europe — as a way to play for time and add permanence to its nuclear project. For Obama to convince Iran’s rulers that the costs of their nuclear effort will far outweigh the perceived benefits, talking alone won’t be enough; the White House will need real leverage over Tehran.

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Excerpt reproduced with permission from Foreign Policy, www.foreignpolicy.com. Copyright 2009 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive LLC. Read the full article at  [http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/09/08/how_to_engage_iran_if_you_must]

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