WASHINGTON – A former senior White House adviser said Monday that he doesn’t
expect a breakthrough in upcoming talks with Tehran and certainly no deal
reached before Iranian presidential elections in June.
Gary Samore, until
recently the White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass
destruction, predicted that “ups and downs and differences and frustrations are
going to continue for the foreseeable future” in world powers’ negotiations with
At the same time, Samore observed that the Iranians are slowing
down aspects of their nuclear program for the time being.
“Even if there
isn’t a formal deal, I do think the Iranians are exercising some constraints on
their program for political reasons,” said Samore, who was speaking at the
He assessed that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei
was being careful not to come near the red line of advanced uranium enrichment
that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu laid down at the UN in the fall, since he
doesn’t want to trigger more sanctions or a military attack before the elections
In the context of Iran’s careful political calculations and
what Samore described as “a fundamental disconnect” between Tehran and world
power negotiators, the former White House official said it would be “unrealistic
to expect there would be some kind of breakthrough in these talks” at the end of
Samore also said he didn’t think a military attack would be an
impossible scenario so long as talks were going on. Instead, he suggested that
more important than what’s happening at the negotiating table in determining a
strike would be the situation on the ground.
Samore was joined at
Brookings by Javier Solana, former foreign policy chief for the European Union
and the lead negotiator with Iran from 2003 to 2009 on behalf of the so-called
P5+1 of the US, France, the UK, Germany, Russia and China.
maintained that dealing with Syria was essential to getting results on Iran’s
nuclear program since the two countries are deep allies.
that problem, it will be very difficult to get the negotiations moving,” said
Solana, who pointed to the importance of pressuring Russia to exercise leverage
Solana warned that the “level of consistency and coherence
of the P5+1 is diminishing” in part because of the different goals regarding
Syria that the member countries now have.