Obama and Khamenei Must Compromise

De-escalation of Iranian nuclear activities must be accompanied with a de-escalation of sanctions


Obama and Khamenei Must Compromise
by Trita Parsi

If President Barack Obama and Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei do not compromise at the upcoming nuclear talks next Saturday, the region will -- in the words of a diplomat involved in the matter -- head towards "total war." For the sake of world peace, both sides must compromise.

Yet, there are some indications that the next round of talks may differ little from previous failed discussions. Driven by limited political maneuverability at home, domestic pressure not to compromise, and a perception of strength that lures the parties to believe they can force on the other a fait accompli, the talks have often been about imposing terms of capitulation on the other.

It has never succeeded.

The White House is going into the talks with extensive demands. Iran must cease production of 20% enriched uranium, cease all activities at the underground Fordo facility and give up its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium.

From a non-proliferation perspective, these are reasonable demands. Iran has said that it would only enrich as much 20% uranium that it needs to produce fuel pads for its Tehran Research Reactor. If the West would provide Iran with the fuel pads, the White House reasons, Iran would have no reason to continue enriching at this level nor would it need its stockpile. And since Iran planned to use Fordo for enrichment at this level, demanding that those plans be set aside also seem reasonable.

If Iran would agree to this, the US's current conviction that Iran cannot dash for a bomb without getting caught would persist. Iran would need about a year to build a bomb, but would get caught within 30-60 days if it tried to build one, thanks to the current level of inspections. Iran's activities at Fordo and its growing stockpile of uranium enriched to 20%, however, reduces Iran's dash-out time and it could make it more difficult for the inspectors to catch any Iranian foul play. This is why the White House's focus is on Fordo and Iran's enrichment at 20%, and why Khamenei should agree to compromise.

What remains unclear, however, is what Obama is willing to put on the table. Thus far, White House officials have only indicated that Iran would be given fuel pads to produce medical isotopes and a promise not to impose new UN sanctions on Tehran.

This package is a non-starter to most observers - including to other P5+1 diplomats. The problem is not necessarily the demands, but the imbalance between what is demanded and what is offered.

A senior US official told me in an interview for my book A Single Roll of the Dice - Obama's Diplomacy with Iran (Yale University Press, 2012), that the US tried very hard to turn the October 2009 talks into a win-win. "Not because we wanted to do Iran a favor," he said, "but because there was no other way to get a deal."

There still isn't another way to get a deal.

By June, European oil sanctions will kick in. And the US is intensifying its campaign to strong-arm other states to cut oil imports from Iran. It appears highly unlikely that Iran would agree to give considerable concessions in return for a halt to new UN sanctions while other more biting sanctions continue to be added.

It seems unavoidable that any de-escalation of Iranian nuclear activities must be accompanied with a de-escalation of sanctions in order for a deal to be struck.

Obama's challenge is that there is almost no political space for lifting some of the existing US sanctions. Since Congress has imposed most US sanctions, Congress must also approve any changes to them. Last time Obama took a fight with Congress over Iran sanctions, he lost the Senate vote with 100-0. He is not going to pick another fight over this issue with Congress in a middle of his re-election bid.

Greater flexibility may exist in the EU and Asia. But as time passes, the less valuable the promise of lifting sanctions will become. For instance, the offer of Asian powers to reverse their cuts in Iranian oil imports only carries credibility for a few more months. Once the Asian refineries pay the cost of shifting away from Iranian oil, they are unlikely to double that cost by shifting back to Iranian oil. At that point, in the words of an Asian diplomat, the Asian powers "will lose their leverage."

Herein lies the contradiction of coercive diplomacy (the dual-track approach) combined with phased negotiations. Coercive diplomacy dictates that pressure must be put on the other side for it to compromise. The incentive offered to the targeted state to concede is an easing of the pressure once it ceases its objectionable policies.

In a phased approach, in which the deal is separated into several different steps, a contradiction emerges if the pressured state actually complies. On the one hand, a change of behavior should be rewarded with a reduction of pressure. On the other hand, additional pressure is deemed necessary in order to coerce the sanctioned state to continue to compromise for the ensuing steps in the phased approach.

This contradiction risks collapsing the talks because the sanctioned state will likely only accept that its concessions are met with additional pressure if it so weak that it has no choice but to accept capitulation.

There is a risk that Obama's silence on the incentives side is motivated by the logic of the phased approach, that is, demands will be made throughout the talks but real incentives will only be offered in the final phase. But there is also a chance that the silence is a calculated move. While demands can be leaked to the US media, incentives will only be presented at the negotiating table once a diplomatic process has been put in place.

So far, both sides have shown a greater willingness to take a risk for escalation than a risk for peacemaking. Both sides believe that only the other party is guilty of this lack of courage. For war to be avoided, both sides need to look themselves in the mirror.

First published in HuffingtonPost.com.

Trita Parsi is president of National Iranian American Council and author of the newly released book A Single Roll of the Dice – Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran (Yale University Press, 2012).


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more from Trita Parsi
iraj khan

I wonder if

by iraj khan on

they are MEK members?

As was reported today:

Iran says arrests some of Israel-linked "terrorist group"


"Iran's Intelligence Ministry announced it has identified a major terrorist group from the Zionist regime (of Israel) and has arrested some of its protected operational members inside the country," IRNA reported, without saying when the arrests had taken place.

The semi-official Fars news agency said the suspects were arrested "while preparing to carry out terrorist acts", adding that a considerable number of bombs, machineguns, military and communication equipment had been seized.



AliAlavi, You are Not IRANIAN &

by Azarbanoo on

or you are out of your mind.  Continue kissing Rahabar's ass.

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Wrong dear tp

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


This is not a matter for compromise between Khamenei and Obama. It is a matter for people of Iran and the IR. Sadly Parsi views this as a problem between a dictator and a president.

The real problem is that of the oppression of the Iranian people. The rapes; tortures and murders. These are the problems and nothing Obama does may settle them. No compromise will help. 

IR; Khamenei and the other goons must go and people get free. Afterward it would be good to see them brought to justice. But Parsi insists on an "USA vs IRI" view which is both wrong and not popular with Iranians in and out of Iran.


Anti- Family

by AliAlavi on

The way the chinese relate culturally to each other and want to be ruled is based on their values as a culture/history and they have the right to do it the way they want.. How they want to treat a thief or a murderer is their own business.. Capital punishment is very predominant in the U.S and a lot of people are executed every year for various reasons... so you can not pick and choose what you call bad and what is ok.

These legal codes and ways of punishments are based on their history, one is Judeo Chiristian, one Buddist, one Islamic... Some body eats raw fish (Sushi) some body eats a cute sheep and another Kaleh Pacheh or even Cats... Each of them think they are doing an ok thing, because it is based on their own culture. Now who am to say that each beatiful healthy fish is bad, but killing thousands of Cow and Sheeps and subject them to hormones is good and ok.


The West does not hold any moral high ground and is not in a position to tell anybody, wether chinese, Islamic Iranians or Saudi Arabia (oh wait some how the U.S does'nt care for their behavior becaause of oil), because they  are one of the biggest killers of the world and one of the most oppressing powers in the world both internally  (remember the 99% , the poor, the Army of unempolyed and uninsured) and internationally (remember millions of people who were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Vietnam, Korea, Chile, .....Iraq)... Of course they are Masters of Opinion Making and the use of Media (Remember "Manufacturing Consent")


So please stop being a applogist for the U.S warmongering around the world in the name of the "Freedom", "Democracy" and the Apple Pie.


In Iran, there is always somebody in power, it is always absolute (Remember Hezbe Rastakhiz) and the rest is just us as Iranians...

 Every country, specially outside the Judeo-Christian tradition (Non-Eropean based)  has their own culture, they think it is good, we think it is odd and strange... 


Nobody will be "punished"

by Simorgh5555 on

Nobody will be "punished" for meeting and talking to any body, you say.
Its not who Trita Parsi met but what he does for them.
The poof is in the pudding. Inspect the emails between Trita Parsi and Ambassador Zarin and you will see Parsi actively engaging on lobbying on his behalf, telling Zarin which congressman to meet and would be receptive to him.
Isn't it revealing that at no point does Parsi broach the subject of human rights with Zarin and ask him as ambassador to convey to his superiors the concerns of Iranian Americans about the executions, imprisonments, tortures and rapes? Why does he not even once tell Zarin what the Iranian community really wants. If he did talk about human rights then it certainly was not evident in the emails.
Parsi's attitude is the same as NIAC which is to negotiate and appease the IR without any pre-conditions. Human Rights is only an afterthought and it never surprises when NIAC is always late when reporting human rights issues after every other media outlet has reported this. Parsi believes that through normalisation people like Seyed Khamenei and his Sepahi terrorists will change their behaviour and conform to international standards of human rights. Only a blind ideologist or charlatan would argue this point.

Arash Kamangir

War against IR is the only solution

by Arash Kamangir on

Negotiations with mullahs can only end up in one way street. IR has already missed the boat and they are now better off to build up nuclear proof bunckers than nuclear facilities.



by Shemirani on

Very wellsaid Hirre, Mokhtassar mofid !

If you could compromise with Nazi-Germany you can compromise with the IR...



If you could compromise with

by hirre on

If you could compromise with Nazi-Germany you can compromise with the IR...


Imagine if TP had used the

by alimostofi on

Imagine if TP had used the phrase "The Hezbollah Regime" instead of the word "Iran" throughout his article. It would make total nonsense of it all.

FB: astrologer.alimostofi



by vildemose on

 Anti-Family values?

 our fine cultural values of family, integrity??


...Sigheh, legal pedophilia, stoning women, cutting off limbs, torture, raping virgin girls, wife-battering, honor killing, stealing, cheating, corruption, degarding women, immorality, unethical behavior on all levels of society and government. Are those what you call "our fine cultural values"?

Your ideology and dogma are inhumane and vile no regardelss of  how many people are following them.

What a disgrace the lot of Sepah and Mois are.

A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.



by Bavafa on

The “prisoner of day” today has had only two comments so far. 

Either something really wrong with our priority OR many of us suffer from hypocrisy in a very grand way.

It is noteworthy that this lack of interest and support for those who are putting their lives on the line is not limited to today's posting as two or three is the average number of support they get from our so called anti-IRI folks.



'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 


G. Rahmanian

Faramarz Jaan:

by G. Rahmanian on

This a lifetime opportunity for you! I think you are a good advocate. You'd better apply for the job before one of those "Zionists" gets it. I'm 100% sure you'll get the job.

This way you can get connected to the big moneybags and make the money you couldn't even dream of making.

BTW, don't forget your friends when you're up there among the 1% folks.

Good luck, buddy!

hamsade ghadimi

gard o khak-e jj

by hamsade ghadimi on

jj, which one is it?  is trita a politician or a lobbyist?

if he's a lobbyist, then your words would read as such: "So what if Parsi met IRI's ambassador? Or any Iranian official? What do you think lobbyists do? They MEET and they TALK! With IRI officials, with American officials, with Israeli officials too! What does that prove?"

your useage of politician is very loose.  he certainly does not hold a political office.  or perhaps by politician you mean "a person who acts in a manipulative and devious way, typically to gain advancement."

i guess you wouldn't care if he's a lobbyist for the iri.  you probably know many other good guys who are (or once were) iri lobbyists. :) 

arash Irandoost

Indeed Trita must be panicking

by arash Irandoost on

Sorry her eis the entire article: 


Court throws out IRI Lobbyist, Trita Parsi and NIAC Defamation Experts This entry was posted by  Sunday, 8 April, 2012 Read the rest of this entry »

Iranian Group Loses Defamation Experts


   WASHINGTON (CN) – A journalism professor and an economist cannot testify that an Arizona man defamed a nonprofit by writing articles that characterize it as an agent of the Iranian government, a federal judge ruled.

The National Iranian American Council and its president, Trita Parsi, tapped the experts for their lawsuit against Seid Hassan Daioleslam. They claim they were defamed by articles that Daioleslam wrote on IranianLobby.com and other websites.

“The thrust of plaintiffs’ complaint is that defendant ‘has published false and defamatory statements indicating that [plaintiffs are] member[s] of a subversive and illegal “are members of a subversive and illegal Iranian lobby colluding with the Islamic Republic of Iran,’” U.S. District Judge John Bates wrote, quoting the suit.

As an organization “dedicated to promoting Iranian American involvement in American civic life,” the council says these statements have hampered their fund-raising and advocacy goals.

Daioleslam counters that the First Amendment protects his statements, which he characterizes as true and devoid of malicious intent.

For the council’s suit, University of North Carolina journalism professor Debashis Aikat wanted to testify that Daioleslam’s writings did not meet the standard of care for journalists. Joel Morse, an economics professor with the University of Baltimore, wanted the court to use his estimate of financial damages that the council and its president suffered.

Bates excluded both experts on March 30, finding that their findings are not “sufficiently reliable or helpful to the jury” because they are not based on “sufficient facts or data” that are the “product of reliable principles and methods.”

Though Aikat pointed to a one-page “Code of Ethics” adopted in 1996 by the Society of Professional Journalists, Bates said the testimony was overly vague and general.

“Beyond these generalized assertions, Aikat did not provide examples of or citations to any unsubstantiated facts or misleading statements in defendant’s writings,” he wrote.

Aikat also failed to describe the methodology he used or explain why he relied only on the SPJ Code, which “explicitly describes itself as a ‘resource for ethical decision-making,’ not a set of rules,” the decision states.

“Aikat’s view of the applicable standard was driven less by objective sources and more by his personal views,” Bates concluded.

Morse, the economist, also used a flawed methodology to tie defamation to the council’s decreased budget surplus since publication of the articles in 2007.

Specifically, Morse could not adequately demonstrate that the articles caused the council’s increased expenses over the time in question or address the impact of the recession on donations.

“Given the multiple factual, arithmetical, and theoretical errors in Morse’s calculations, the court finds that Morse’s calculations are ultimately not reliable enough to put before the factfinder,” Bates wrote.


arash Irandoost

Indeed Trita must be panicking

by arash Irandoost on

Dear Simorgh, you are absolutely right. Terita is trying to deflect the recent courts dismisal of its so-called experts, which were thrown out by Judge Bates. Very embarrasing for Trita and NIAC.  I tried to post and inform Iranians about it but it looks like Jahanshah does not like the eposting and removes it as soon as I manage to post it on IC.  Here is the link to the court finding. 



اعلامیه رسمی از دفتر نیاک در واشنگتن!




ما برای حل این مساله به یک هات شات احتیاج داریم! 




The Grand Bargain train has left the station (someone tell NIAC)

by AMIR1973 on

I suppose the purpose of these so-called "analyses" by the NIAC Rahbar-for-Life and Mohammad Javid Zarif's liaison is to demonstrate to the IRI that NIAC is at least trying to do something, anything to block sanctions against the Islamist terrorist regime (however unsuccessful those attempts might be).


جواب رسمی‌ بیت رهبری


بسم تعالی

عمه تون compromise کند!  

شعار ما شعار امام راحل است: جنگ جنگ تا پیروزی. لاکن به یاری خداوند متعال ما همانند آن امام راحل مجبور به خوردن جام زهر نخواهیم بود. البته اگر زمان به نوشیدن جام زهر هم نزدیک شد، باکی نیست، هواپیما بنزین زده در فرودگاه مهرآباد آماده به سفر به جنوب لبنان است.  برای بنده و خانواده مقدّس هیچ خطری وجود ندارد.  مردم ایران هم که شهید پرور.  مشکل حل شد به اذن الله تعالی.

السلام علیکم و رحمت الله و برکاته.  

G. Rahmanian

The questions remain!

by G. Rahmanian on

The questions remain, what's in all this for Trita Parsi and NIAC? Why is Trita Parsi so adamant in helping the regime of the Mullahs stay in power?


Forget Human Rights in Iran

by AliAlavi on

I think, the case of Iran is like china, they do not want to be "Culturaly" the same as the rest of the world. It is the same with Iranians. They are shia, more than 70 percent very Islamic (and had been through ex-Shah's time) and they would like to maintin their values and their traditions. They do not like to adopt western ways of life and its social values of Total Individualism and Anti-Family values.

In another point, Mr. Khaemenei is the same as the rest of Iran's 2500 years of history of Kings. Iranians have it in their psychie that they should have ONE SINGLE ruler that is like a father and also has some connection with God (Far Izadi) that will take care of them. In this regards, Khaemeni is no different from Reza Shah or Cyrus the Great... He is the Supereme leader... Now the people that have been pushing for "human rights" and decmocracy should consider the above fact that more than 70 percent of Iranian that specially live in villages and are very much pro regime DO NOT WANT a complete democracy, because they want a King, once his name was Cyrus and later was Shah Abbas, later Khomeni and now Khamenei...  If you guys understand this fine cultural/historical fact, you would realize that khamenei is as good as the next guy and like China, we should try to be ourselves, rather than let some looser like U.S push us into its notion of cultural superiority by shoving their pop culture into our fine cultural values of family, integrity and ...


and in this case you see Mr. Khamenei as the true father of a Nation that is proud and wants to live a happy life and would fight with the true devil of U.S who want to push its lies of false happines of western lonliness and so called "democracy" and "Freedom" to our minds and sould through BOMBS... They have done this for the past 50 years from Chile to El Salvador and From Iraq (Remember Weapons of Mass Destruction) to Granada and Panama and Vietnam and .....  


Imagine if they chinese had got "Freedom" and "Democracy" in Tienemen Square, the country with billions of people , could never have been managed in order to become such a great power, because their rural and traditional ways did not have that capacity... Now as I recall, in 1976 President Nixon took a plane and went to Communist China and negotiated with the Chinese... and now China owns most of U.S Debt.


Imagine Mr. Obama flys to Tehran... first visits Imam Khoemini's Shrine and heads to tehran for negotiations and make an effort, like Nixon to patch it up with Mr. Khamenei... Peace will come, the Americans will be back (in a limited but sure way) and the Iranian people will have their king... and may be in 20 years Iran will be the place china is today  (with all its resources) and the people ?!!!!  The people will be like the chinese people... getting richer and better off every day... and perhaps we could have that damn Olymic Games in Iran.....  Cheers 

G. Rahmanian

"Obama and Khamenei Must Compromise!"

by G. Rahmanian on

"Obama and Khamenei Must Compromise," so those lurking around can reap hefty financial profits from oil deals and other trade transactions.

At the same time, their motto, "To hell with democracy and democratic freedoms for Iranians." remains loud and clear!

With the current sanctions against the regime in Tehran, such transactions are close to impossible.

Jahanshah Javid

Simorgh the Hangman

by Jahanshah Javid on

cheh khabareh enghad gardo khaak mikoni? chi chi will not go "unpunished"?

So what if Parsi met IRI's ambassador? Or any Iranian official? What do you think politicians do? They MEET and they TALK! With IRI officials, with American officials, with Israeli officials too! What does that prove?

What you are trying to say is that the Iranian ambassador gave cash and instructions to Parsi. You are convinced of it. You're not alone. But you are wrong.

Nobody will be "punished" for meeting and talking to any body. khiyaalet takht :)


Trita's Fairytale

by Faramarz on

If the Regime and the US do not compromise next weekend, there will be a famine and a plague, the oceans will rise, there will be tornadoes and tsunamis, women will cry, children will die and puppies will be homeless and abandoned.

But there is only one way to stop the Armageddon; compromise with the Regime, lift the sanctions and do a Grand Bargain. Then the birds will chirp, the flowers will bloom, the kids will play and laugh in the parks and there will be parties everywhere.

Someday Your Prince Will Come Trita!





Trita is aware of the great confidence Iranians have in one

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on

another and that this is the basis for the political co-operation among Iranians.  LOL well its good to imagine.  Some feel Democracy will fix what is not right in iranians and we are ready for democracy.  //iranian.com/main/blog/amirparvizforsecu...



compromise is a nice euphemism.

by mousa67 on

the most likely scenario of the republic of mullas surviving will be more like ayatola kameni bending down kissing mr obamas shoes begging for mercy. USS enterprise and abe lincoln will be there to make sure ayatola does just that or else.

Oon Yaroo

Washington DC National Zoo v.s. Tehran Zoo! That's the only

by Oon Yaroo on

point of compromise between Obama and Khamenei for the latter to spend the rest of his miserable life in! That is after the collapse of IRR and his conviction!


 Syrian Uprising: Assad's

by vildemose on

 Syrian Uprising: Assad's Forces Shoot At Refugees In Turkey.

Only IRI goons behave like this...Assad take his orders from Khameni.


A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

G. Rahmanian

NIAC's Founding Father!

by G. Rahmanian on

Having moved out of Iran at the age of four(4), Trita Parsi lacks both the emotional capacity and the logical integrity necessary to appreciate Iranians' patriotism and their democratic aspirations. He is more of an outsider when it comes to Iran's interests!


the compromise will be reached, In Baghdad though

by مآمور on

however, it will be a minor one. There will be no major overture as the parties involved(neither side) are not interested in one!

For now, as far as the Iranian side is concerned Turkey should not get any credits for even a minor opening in this dead end talk!!

I wear an Omega watch


This is Trita Parsi's way

by Simorgh5555 on

This is Trita Parsi's way of deflecting attention from his embarrassing defamation case against Hassan Dai. 

NIAC is a sore loser. It has no credibility with the Iranian people it falsely claims it represents and has no credibility with the American justice system after their. Their own 'experts' did not even review Dai's evidence. How dumb is that? 

Emails leaked to the Washington Times show prove categorically that he was chummy with the IR ambasasador to the UN and was trying to fix him support with members of Congress.

Despite his active political lobying, his shabby organisation claims to be an 'educational' organisation which we know is a lame excuse to avoid paying tax. 

So not only are they the mouthpiece of the IR, poor advocates of policies, blatantly exaggerated their membership. demonstrated poor record of achievement in what lobbying skills they have but they are also potentially  tax evaders as well.  

The IRS should seriusly investigate NIAC's claim to be an educational group as it says, as they are platantly a lobbying group which has not declared its political interests. If they are not an educational group then they should be fined and made to pay tax like everyone else.  

 It has failed to stop sanctions against the murderous Terrorist Regime it supports and sooner or later NIAC will die away like the dodo.