News

 

DATE=12/23/97

TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT

NUMBER=5-38536

TITLE=YEARENDER:IRAN-U.S. THAW '97

BYLINE=ALI JALALI

DATELINE=WASHINGTON

CONTENT=

VOICED AT: 



INTRO:  HOPES FOR A THAW IN U-S-IRAN RELATIONS CAME TO PROMINENCE

IN 1997 FOLLOWING THE VICTORY OF A MODERATE CLERIC IN IRAN'S 

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN MAY.  IN DECEMBER, PRESIDENT CLINTON 

REACTED POSITIVELY TO CALLS FROM PRESIDENT MOHAMMAD KHATAMI FOR A

DIALOGUE WITH THE UNITED STATES.  V-O-A'S ALI JALALI LOOKS AT 

PROSPECTS FOR A U-S-IRANIAN RAPPROCHEMENT  



TEXT:  INITIAL SIGNALS FROM TEHRAN AND WASHINGTON INDICATE BOTH 

SIDES GROUND THEIR OFFER FOR TALKS ON CERTAIN PRECONDITIONS.  



THE UNITED STATES SAYS TALKS MUST ADDRESS U-S CONCERNS ABOUT 

IRAN'S ALLEGED SUPPORT OF TERRORISM, TEHRAN'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS 

PROGRAM, AND ITS OPPOSITION TO THE U-S-SPONSORED MIDDLE-EAST 

PEACE PROCESS.



THE RULING CIRCLES IN IRAN HAVE SUGGESTED WASHINGTON MUST TAKE 

CERTAIN STEPS BEFORE A MEANINGFUL EXCHANGE.  THESE STEPS INCLUDE 

U-S RECOGNITION OF IRAN'S ISLAMIC REVOLUTION, RELEASE OF IRANIAN 

FROZEN ASSETS BLOCKADED IN AMERICAN BANKS SINCE 1979, AND ENDING 

ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AGAINST THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC. 



FEARING A REPEAT OF PREVIOUS FAILURES TO RESTORE NORMAL 

RELATIONS, ANALYSTS SAY BOTH SIDES MOVE CAUTIOUSLY.  MANCHESTER 

UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR EDMUND HERZIG ADDS OPPOSITION TO TALKS IN 

BOTH COUNTRIES DRIVES POLICY MAKERS TO ACT WITHIN SET LIMITS. 



                        // HERZIG ACT //



         I THINK ONE HAS TO REMEMBER JUST HOW STRONGLY EMBEDDED 

         IN BOTH COUNTRIES, IN BOTH CAPITALS, IN BOTH 

         GOVERNMENTS, THE CURRENT POLICY LINE IS, AND CERTAINLY 

         IN IRAN THERE ARE STILL VERY MANY PEOPLE IN THE HIGHEST 

         POSITIONS IN THE REGIME WHO ARE RESOLUTELY OPPOSED TO 

         OPENING SERIOUS RELATIONS WITH WASHINGTON, AND I THINK 

         THE SAME IS TRUE IN WASHINGTON.



                          // END ACT //



WATCHERS OF U-S-IRAN RELATIONS NOTE A SERIOUS ENGAGEMENT CAN 

OFFER BOTH SIDES POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC BENEFITS THEY CAN NOT 

IGNORE.  THEY SAY MENDING RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES MAY 

BOOST IRAN'S TROUBLED ECONOMY AND ATTRACT FOREIGN INVESTMENT, 

WHILE THE UNITED STATES CAN FIND IRAN A POWERFUL PARTNER IN ITS 

MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIAN POLICIES .



PROFESSOR HERZIG SEES INCREASING SIGNS INDICATING BOTH SIDES 

APPRECIATE IMPROVED RELATIONS.  HE NOTES IN A NUMBER OF RECENT 

U-S POLICY DECISIONS, ISOLATION OF IRAN HAS HARDLY BEEN A HIGH 

PRIORITY.  ON THE OTHER HAND, THE NEW ADMINISTRATION IN IRAN HAS 

TAKEN A CONCILIATORY TONE TOWARD WASHINGTON. 



SOME IRANIAN ANALYSTS SAY IRAN'S OPENING TO THE ISLAMIC WORLD, 

AND EUROPEAN OBJECTIONS TO THE U-S ANTI-IRAN SANCTIONS RENDER THE

AMERICAN POLICY OF DUAL CONTAINMENT INEFFECTIVE.  THEY CALL FOR 

REVISION OF THE POLICY AS A FIRST STEP TOWARD A RECONCILIATION 

WITH IRAN, BUT PATRICK CLAWSON OF "THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR 

NEAR-EAST POLICY" DISAGREES.



                        // CLAWSON ACT //



         THE CORE OF THE DUAL CONTAINMENT POLICY IS THE IDEA THAT

         THE UNITED STATES IS GOING TO HAVE TO PROVIDE THE 

         SECURITY IN THE PERSIAN GULF RATHER THAN RELYING ON 

         BALANCE OF POWER AMONG THE STATES OF THE REGION; AND I 

         THINK THAT IT REMAINS A VERY VALID CONCEPT DESPITE THE 

         CHANGES AT HAND.



                          // END ACT //



MR. CLAWSON SAYS THE DUAL CONTAINMENT POLICY IS NOT AGAINST 

DIALOGUE WITH IRAN, ALTHOUGH ATTEMPTS TO ENGAGE THE ISLAMIC 

REPUBLIC WERE NOT SUCCESSFUL IN THE PAST.  BUT, HE SAYS SUCH A 

POSSIBILITY NOW LOOKS MORE REALISTIC.



INDEPENDENT OBSERVERS SAY SETTING PRECONDITIONS FOR OPENING TALKS

ON PENDING ISSUES BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND TEHRAN CAN DELAY A 

MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE.  IRANIAN ANALYST AMIR TAHERI SAYS BOTH SIDES

HAVE ALREADY TAKEN STEPS TO PAVE THE WAY FOR SERIOUS TALKS.



                        // TAHERI ACT //



         WE DO NOT HAVE ANY NATIONAL DISPUTE WITH THE UNITED 

         STATES...THERE IS NO LOGICAL OR MATERIAL BASIS FOR 

         ENMITY WHICH HAS BEEN FABRICATED ON BOTH SIDES THROUGH 

         SLOGANS ENTIRELY.  SO WHEN KHATAMI SPEAKS OF NEW 

         OVERTURES, THE NEW DIALOGUE, OF COURSE THIS IS TALK SO 

         FAR, BUT THESE TALKS ALSO REFLECT THE REALITY AND THE 

         FEELING AMONG THE MAJORITY OF IRAN.



                          // END ACT //



EXPERTS CAUTION AGAINST UNDERESTIMATING THE EXISTING DISPUTES.  

U-S MILITARY PRESENCE IN THE GULF REMAINS A CONTENTIOUS ISSUE.  

PRESIDENT KHATAMI HAS CRITICIZED THE PRESENCE OF U-S FORCES IN 

THE PERSIAN GULF AS A SOURCE OF TENSION.  BUT, DR. CLAWSON SAYS 

THE UNITED STATES, CONSIDERS THE DEPLOYMENT VITAL FOR REGIONAL 

STABILITY. 



                        // CLAWSON ACT //



         I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE UNITED STATES TO 

         CONTINUE TO PROVIDE THAT SECURITY UMBRELLA WITHOUT WHICH

         THE REGION WOULD BE MUCH LESS STABLE.  AND THE AIM OF 

         THE SECURITY UMBRELLA IS OF COURSE TO DETER, TO MAKE IT 

         CLEAR THAT AN ATTACK WOULD NOT BE SUCCESSFUL.



                          // END ACT //



ANALYSTS SAY, THE FUTURE OF U-S-IRAN RELATIONS WILL MOSTLY DEPEND

ON MUTUAL FLEXIBILITY.  NOTING THE LACK OF BREAKTHROUGH IN THE 

DRAWN-OUT U-S DIALOGUE WITH CUBA, THEY SAY JUST TALKING CAN NOT 

NECESSARILY LEAD TO IMPROVED RELATIONS BETWEEN TEHRAN AND 

WASHINGTON.   (SIGNED)



NEB/RAE



23-Dec-97 2:47 PM EST (1947 UTC)

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Source: Voice of America

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