nuclear negotiations

The Key to Nuclear Negotiations with Iran is Respecting Cultural Pride

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif sat down with Fareed Zakaria on Sunday and declared “Iran is a proud nation. We believe we have the technological capability… [and] the human resources in order to stand on our own feet.”

Western experts have also picked up on the importance of this pride factor in our dealings with Iran. Robin Wright, a journalist and Atlantic contributor who has written extensively about Iran, said at a recent Brookings panel, “the best way to understand Persians is to think of the most chauvinistic Texan you know and add 5,000 years [of history] and then you begin to understand just how proud they are.” 

The Iranian government has harnessed this powerful sense of nationalism to shore up greater domestic legitimacy. From a common bank note showing an image of an atom superimposed over a map of Iran, to signs in Tehran that boast of the country’s nuclear achievements, this “pride investment” is hard to miss.

One reason the government can’t roll back its nuclear projects now is that it has already invested so much capital (both political and financial) into the program. Therefore, a successful deal between the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany) and Iran will have to not only reassure Western audiences about Iran’s intentions, but also come off as a victory for Iran’s domestic audience.

Read more. [Image: Adrees Latif/Reuters]

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