Tehran looks ready to tango

Reza Marashi and Sahar Namazikhah write: “The Iranian regime is not interested in a diplomatic solution with the United States. Sustained enmity with America is a defining, inextricable pillar of the Islamic Republic. Any shift in this paradigm will irreparably destabilise the regime.” This is the argument proffered by those opposed to sustained US-Iran diplomacy.

At face value, regular chants of “Death to America” and yearly commemorations of the US embassy hostage seizure lend credence to these claims. But behind these assertions lies a deeper reality – and the latest demonstration comes from a surprising source: Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).

As the Washington Post‘s correspondent in Tehran, Jason Rezaian, pointed out last week, the MOIS published a report – publicly available on its website – that assesses Israeli threats of war over Iran’s nuclear programme and highlights the benefits of negotiations with the US to avert a deeper crisis.

To the surprise of many, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry shares the assessment of its counterparts in the US and Israel: the potential destruction caused by military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities would set back the programme only a few years. More telling is their final conclusion: diplomacy is the preferred way forward.

This sober, pragmatic analysis is devoid of the rhetoric commonly emanating from the Islamic Republic. More importantly, it suggests three important points for policymakers in Washington to consider: [Continue reading…]

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