Making a Deal With Iran Part II: BATNA & Trust

imagesNegotiations often involve unforeseen events and the U.S. Iran negotiations are no exception.  The United States discovered several overseas companies have been doing business with Iran, which amounted to a violation of the existing sanctions, and sent out a blacklist warning.

            Iran struck a temporary bargain with world leaders that paused some aspects of the nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.  Iran followed by saying that any new sanctions would end the possibility of a long-term negotiated agreement.

            If you recall on Thursday of last week the U.S. announced it was freezing the accounts of several companies in Singapore, Panama and Ukraine and elsewhere for maintain convert business with Iran’s national tanker company.

            Initially Iran walked away from the negotiation table in Vienna only to return with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif stating, “ We will show proper, calculated, purposeful and smart reaction toward any improper and unconstructive action over the past few days, improper actions were carried out by the Americans that we responded in a proper way.”

            The issue of trust has been at the center of these negotiations from the beginning however Iran’s willingness to return to the table speaks volumes about their BATNA.  Iranian negotiators had the opportunity to walk away permanently thus ending the negotiations but came back possibly because their best solution to a negotiated agreement was not very enticing.

           Trust has been an obstacle in the negotiations as Iran views the U.S. as a colonail power that does not want to see Iran develop scientifically.  This narrative has been strengthened by the assassinations of nuclear scientists in Iran.  In other words, can the West be trusted?

            Establishing trust with the party across the table can be difficult and often there in lies the solution.  If Iran’s main interest is being developed in the scientific field then the U.S. can collaborate  with Iran without addressing the nuclear issue.  Iran is highly advanced in the neuroscience department and Western scientists would love the opportunity to collaborate.

            Reaching one’s interests is critical in any negotiation and its seems the these talks may have finally reached a threshold where new ground can be covered.

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