Skip to main content

Iran: US Has Time, Rouhani Doesn’t

If the Iranian president makes the United States a decent offer in the Geneva negotiations, it should take it — and build on it to deal with regional issues and Iran’s support for terrorist groups.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (C) is approached by staff members after a news conference in New York September 27, 2013.  New Iranian President Rouhani said on Friday he wanted talks with major powers on Iran's nuclear program to yield results in a short period of time and that the improved mood in U.S.-Iranian relations could lead to better ties.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ENERGY) - RTX142AH
Read in 

This week, the United States and its allies will enter another round of negotiations with Iran, this one more hopeful as a result of Hassan Rouhani’s election as Iranian president and his repeated statements that he wants a deal to end Iran’s nuclear impasse. 

One of the foundational assumptions of the American approach to these negotiations all along has been that the West doesn’t have time and the Iranians do. As a result, the United States has insisted that the talks cannot be allowed to drag on. They need to be concluded quickly. The rationale behind this assumption is that the Iranians care more about retaining their nuclear program than they do about having sanctions lifted, and their goal is merely to stave off worse measures by the West — either US or Israeli military operations, or even harsher sanctions — while they continue to enrich uranium and draw closer and closer to acquiring a breakout capability. (A breakout capability is the ability to quickly field a workable nuclear weapon. Although the term “quickly” is undefined and has changed significantly over the years, it is often described as meaning “faster than the West could act to prevent it.”)

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.