With the prospect of confrontation, headlines in Iran are once again focusing on relations with the United States. Ali Khorram, a former Iranian ambassador to China, recently argued that more could have been done to reduce Tehran’s vulnerability by improving ties during US President Barack Obama’s presidency. This is a compelling point, but not everyone in Iran agrees. Indeed, there are multiple schools of thought on this matter. When fleshed out, three predominant positions among Iranian stakeholders demonstrate why problems in Washington caused division in Tehran on whether to solidify ties under Obama.
At face value, it is hard to refute Khorram’s logic, which, most likely, many Iranians are thinking privately. A successful nuclear deal created unprecedented diplomatic momentum, so why didn’t they strike while the iron was hot and use that success as a foundation from which negotiations on other points of contention could commence?