Opinion: Cautious optimism after Iran summit | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 15.04.2012
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Opinion: Cautious optimism after Iran summit

For more than a year, talks with Iran over its nuclear program had been put on hold. DW's Jamsheed Faroughi says this weekend's summit in Istanbul was a good sign - giving reason for cautious optimism.

The international community had looked on the Istanbul summit with both hope and concern: Hope that the talks would make at least some progress towards a peaceful solution in the conflict over Iran's nuclear ambitions; concern that the situation could further escalate should the talks fail.

Any further escalation would likely have unpredictable consequences for the already instable situation in the Middle East.

There certainly was reason to be worried: several similar attempts at negotiations had failed in the past. The last round of talks in Istanbul took place some 15 months ago - and ended before they even got properly started.

The positive outcome of this weekend's summit, however, gives reason to hope that those in power in Tehran have shed the illusion that they could continue stalling indefinitely.

Iranian chief negotiator Saeed Jalili came with "constructive proposals" to Istanbul, which shows that even the ultra-conservative leadership in Tehran has grasped the signs of the time.

It seems that Tehran has understood that they have to be ready for compromise. But what has brought about that change of mind?

Running out of patience

Jamsheed Faroughi

Jamsheed Faroughi is the head of DW's Persian service

For one, it's the realization that playing for time won't work anymore. For years, Iran had been successful with that strategy, but it just won't work anymore. Playing for time only works if you manage to trick people into believing that you're actually up for compromise.

But once the masquerade was exposed, the international community was bound to lose patience.

Also, tensions over Iran's nuclear project have dramatically increased over recent months. And it's not only in rhetoric that this escalation has taken place.

The US has sent more troops and ships including aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf: the danger of a war has never been as acute as it is now.

Lastly, the sanctions are starting to bite: The main demand that Iran brought to the Istanbul talks was to have those sanctions lifted - which goes to show just how effective they are.

In recent months, the sanctions had been broadened to include Iranian banks as well as the oil and gas sectors. This has led to a dramatic drop in revenues for the regime.

More than 80 percent of public revenue comes from oil exports. Further disruption could therefore serve a serious blow to Tehran.

Cautious optimism

The resumption of talks after almost 15 months is a good sign. Yet it would be naïve to assume that this new round of negotiations would already mark the crucial turning point in the conflict. There is still a long way to go until tensions can really be resolved.

The regime in Tehran will now have to fully disclose its nuclear program. It has to create transparency and trust. But that's exactly what could prove to be difficult.

The Iranian leadership has too often betrayed that trust in the past.

Author: Jamsheed Faroughi / ai
Editor: Louisa Schaefer

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