The United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany agreed today to face-to-face talks with Iran regarding its nuclear program. While I am confident the talks will lead to nothing, they are a necessary component of the United States’ coercive strategy against Iran before American conducts an overt attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Of course, the Iranians might magnanimously agree to give up their nuclear ambitions. However, the chance of that happening is about as likely as the Israelis abandoning the Holy Land to the Palestinians.
It is a pipe dream to believe that Iran will give up almost a half-century’s worth of nuclear ambitions and a program that is in its vital national interest to pursue. It is also naive to assume that Iran will not be able to skillfully play six countries with widely divergent interests against one another to stall for more time. For instance, Russia has an interest in protecting its nuclear industry, which it considers to be a strategic one. As such, any agreement that Iran halt uranium enrichment might face Russian resistance. The Chinese are very interested in increasing their access to Iranian oil and gas. Therefore, it might be relatively easy for the Iranians to persuade the Chinese to support Iranian interests.
That said, it is critical that the United States create the impression that it has exhausted all possible diplomatic avenues to avoid a war. These talks are kabuki theater on a grand scale involving six nations with diverging and conflicting interests. These negotiations will ultimately fail. However, it is how the United States choreographs this inevitable failure that is of critical importance.