Obama Can Prevent New Sanctions

24 August 2013 | 21:57 Code : 1920305 Interview General category
An interview with Barbara Slavin, an analyst of Middle Eastern and Iranian affairs
Obama Can Prevent New Sanctions

In a Middle East where many regions are engulfed in sectarian and urban warfare, Iran has recently experienced a presidential election which has created hope for a better future, a bright future that Iran can hopefully share with other countries of the region. This is the opinion of Barbara Slavin, an analyst of Middle Eastern and Iranian affairs. Ms. Slavin is a member of the Atlantic Council who also works with Al-Monitor. In 2007, she authored a book entitled ‘Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the US and the Twisted Path to Confrontation’. The following is Iranian Diplomacy’s exclusive interview with Ms. Slavin.


In your latest article, you have described Iran as a bright point in the Middle East. Do you think Iran could be the starting point in finding a solution for the region? 


Iran should be part of the solution but unfortunately it is still part of the problem because of its support for the brutal Assad regime in Syria, groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza and a nuclear program that makes little sense from an energy point of view.


As you said before, the key to US-Iran compromise lies in the nuclear issue. With Rouhani in office, is a nuclear deal possible?


I am more hopeful than I have been in eight years that a compromise on the nuclear issue is possible – one that recognizes Iran’s rights to the peaceful use of nuclear energy but limits the program in such a way that the international community will have confidence that Iran cannot quickly divert nuclear material and make weapons.


Recently, the House of Representative passed new sanctions against Iran. Is it possible that the Senate might do the same? And if new sanctions are approved, what would happen to negotiations and the diplomatic process?


If there is progress in the negotiations, I believe the Obama administration can convince Congress not to pass new sanctions.


Sanction suspension vis-à-vis enrichment suspension; will this formula work?


Yes definitely. Even suspension of just 20 percent enrichment would lead to some suspension of sanctions.


You yourself met Rouhani in his first press conference. You seem very hopeful about him and his cabinet. What lies behind such an optimistic view?


This is the second time I have met Rouhani. The first was in 2005 when he was national security adviser. I was impressed with him then as someone who seemed realistic and interested in better relations with the United States. I also know some members of his team and have a positive impression of them as well. They are capable and experienced people.


Six years ago, during Ahmadinejad’s first term, you wrote a book about the hate-love relation between Iran and the US that brought them to the brink of war. Now, with the new Iranian administration, what is your speculation about Iran-US relations in the short and long run?


Again, I am hopeful that we can avoid war and finally begin to understand each other better. The lack of relations between our two countries has hurt both societies and given too much influence to countries such as China and Saudi Arabia – societies with which we have less in common than we do with Iranians. The US and Iran should work together to improve conditions for all people in the region, stop terrorism and the spread of dangerous weapons.

tags: iran nuclear rohani obama