U.S.-Iranian Thaw

In an interview with the broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bayern 2 Radiowelt) yesterday, the chairman of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, welcomed the new tone in the dispute concerning Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

In an interview with the broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bayern 2 Radiowelt) yesterday, the chairman of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, welcomed the new tone in the dispute concerning Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and especially the constructive speech the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani held in front of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. However, Ischinger said, the rhetoric now needs to be turned into action for Tehran to comply with long-standing demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council.


Ischinger advised to hold forthcoming American-Iranian talks based on the method employed by Egon Bahr, who as state secretary in the federal chancellery in the Willy Brandt government was instrumental in the policy of détente. Considering how difficult relations between Iran and the United States have been for more than three decades, hostile reactions by hardliners on both sides would be easier to avoid if exploratory meetings and talks would first be kept in an informal frame in the sense of back channels.



In this vein, Egon Bahr succeeded in reaching an agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the former Soviet Union in the beginning of the 1970s. In similar fashion, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, then-National Security Advisor, achieved the American rapprochement with the People’s Republic of China in the frame of the so-called ‘ping-pong diplomacy.’


Ischinger did stress the worries felt by Israel as well as by Saudi Arabia and by Gulf states. With good reason, Israel fears Iranian nuclear capabilities more than any other state in the region. In addition, among Gulf states there is the concern that a US-Iranian agreement could strengthen Iran’s power in the region at the expense of Sunni states. According to Ischinger, that is why it is important to keep in mind the interests of both Israel and the Gulf states during forthcoming negotiations between Washington and Teheran.


You can listen to the full interview here (in German).

26 September 2013, by MSC

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