Engaging Iran: An Interview with R. Nicholas Burns

Engaging Iran: An Interview with R. Nicholas Burns

R. Nicholas Burns, the former under secretary of state for political affairs, says it is unlikely that Iran will make a serious effort to work with the United States in curbing its nuclear program, but that President Barack Obama's push for diplomatic talks is a necessary step in building international support for harsher sanctions and, in a worst-case scenario, military force.

Now a professor of diplomacy and international politics at the Harvard Kennedy School, Burns told World Politics Review, "My guess is the Iranian government will try to resist serious negotiations."

He suggested that Iran will put forward a proposal that tries to divide the international community and appears "conciliatory to attract support from some countries, particularly China and Russia," two of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council responsible for imposing stiffer sanctions.

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