Category: Iran

Iran’s in the Mood to Negotiate on its Nuclear Program

HASHEM PESARAN, professor of economics, USC Dornsife.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Guardian on Sept. 17.

It is well documented that economic sanctions on their own have not generally been effective in achieving their political aims, particularly when they are imposed against non-democratic regimes. Sanctions have their greatest impact in the short term, as their effects tend to be mitigated in the longer term by structural economic and political adjustments. Overall, effective sanctions have been short-lived, whilst ineffective ones have lasted a long time.

Stand Clear and Let Iran Botch Its Nuclear Ambitions

JACQUES E. C. HYMANS, associate professor of international relations, Dornsife College.

This op-ed originally appeared at Foreign Affairs on Feb. 18.

At the end of January, Israeli intelligence officials quietly indicated that they have downgraded their assessments of Iran’s ability to build a nuclear bomb. This is surprising because less than six months ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned from the tribune of the United Nations that the Iranian nuclear D-Day might come as early as 2013. Now, Israel believes that Iran will not have its first nuclear device before 2015 or 2016.

Isolated Iran to Welcome 100-plus Countries for Summit

NAJMEDIN MESHKATI, professor of engineering, USC Viterbi, and GUIVE MIRFENDERESK, international lawyer.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

The 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran this week will draw dignitaries and representatives from more than 100 countries — 35 heads of state, including Mohamed Morsi, the current chair of the movement and the first democratically elected president of Egypt, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Role of Sacred Values in the Iran Nuclear Standoff

MORTEZA DEHGHANI, research assistant professor, USC’s Institute of Creative Technologies, and SONYA SACHDEVA, postdoctoral fellow in psychology, Northwestern University.

This op-ed originally appeared at Aljazeera.

Beneath the intensifying crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme is a startling disconnect between what the two sides perceive to be the target of the West’s sanctions. To the US and its allies, the sanctions aim to cripple the Iranian economy to the point that Iran’s government will realise the error of developing nuclear weapons.

To Iranians, however, the sanctions represent an encroachment on their country’s sovereignty over an issue – nuclear energy – they believe goes to the core of national identity. This view has deep historical resonance because of previous foreign efforts to undermine the nation’s sovereignty – the Western-sponsored coup of a democratically elected government in 1953 – and to interrupt scientific advancement – Iran’s quest for nuclear technology dates to the shah. For these Iranians, the country’s nuclear programme has become a “sacred value”.

What is a “sacred value”? We all intuitively feel that there are certain things and values in our lives – the right to vote, the graves of our ancestors – that we would never give up or compromise no matter how tempting the reward or menacing the threat. What’s more, to even be asked to consider a tradeoff on such matters would be an outrage.

‘Sacred values’

Sacred values play significant roles in many socio-cultural conflicts. The Israeli-Palestinian divide is a prominent example. The problem is that sacred values are beyond the reach of traditional diplomacy, which assumes rational actors weighing the costs and benefits of taking a position. Who would bargain away the sacred? But in the case of Iran’s nuclear programme, diplomacy has a chance of succeeding in upcoming talks because Iranians may consider the programme sacred only up to a point.

In 2010, we surveyed Iranian attitudes toward their country’s nuclear programme. The 2,000 participants were young (average age 30), college graduates and mostly male, a sample highly representative of the population as a whole except for the predominance of males.

We presented one group (about 1,400 Iranians) with three different tradeoff scenarios: Would they give up the nuclear energy programme in exchange for material compensation from the United Nations, under the threat of sanctions or in the absence of external pressure?