Analyst: No breakthrough yet in US-Iranian relations
Trend News
Elena Ostapenko

U.S President Barack Obama will extend the ”emergency situation” toward Iran despite their improving ties. It is not time for a breakthrough, U.S. foreign policy expert at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs Barbara Zanchetta wrote Trend News in an e-mail today.

”Although Obama’s Iranian policy has shown some marked differences from the past, the overall state of U.S.-Iranian relations remains at a stalemate,” Zanchetta said.

This week, Obama must decide whether to extend the ”emergency situation” for another year, which was adopted by President Jimmy Carter 30 years ago. The 1979 decree declared a state of emergency, deeming Iran a threat to national security and the U.S. economy.

U.S.-Iranian relations were hostile during the previous White House administration. President Obama has set a policy to establish relations with Tehran. He proposed launching a dialogue, and the first debates ensued over Iran’s nuclear program. The president even released an unprecedented video to the Iranian people and government on the eve of the Novruz holiday.

But despite the friendly gestures, Zanchetta said Obama extended the ”emergency situation” in March due to Iranian threats against the U.S. economy. The step was made with the approval of Decree No. 12957, which was initially issued by former President Bill Clinton in March 1995.

”On Iran, Obama seems to be proceeding on two tracks, and is likely to continue to do so in the coming weeks,” Zanchetta said.

She cites the following fact as an argument. A number of Obama’s advisers support the use of military force against Iran. U.S public opinion also plays a role, with many Americans critical of the current Iranian regime. But the issue nonetheless remains disputable in the U.S.

The ”emergency situation” decree was signed by Carter after U.S. citizens were taken hostage in Tehran 30 years ago. All official Iranian assets in the U.S., including accounts in U.S banks and their foreign branches, were blocked. These were the first punitive economic measures against Iran, followed by a break in diplomatic relations in 1980. An exports and imports embargo was imposed. Later all U.S. presidents only tightened the economic sanctions against the country.

Today the the U.S. and Europe accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a peaceful nuclear energy program. Tehran rejects these accusations, stating that its nuclear program is aimed to meet the Iranian demand for electric power. If it is impossible to reach an agreement to freeze Iran’s uranium enrichment program, the West will impose new sanctions.

It is not worth waiting for a direct answer from the Iranian regime to extend the ”emergency situation, Zanchetta said.

She added that there might be rhetoric and harsh statements about the lack of specific changes in the Obama administration’s foreign policy compared to previous presidents’. US policy has always been assessed by Tehran as hostile. However such statements from Iranian officials on the US are frequent.

”The state of tension and latent, if not open, hostility has for decades been characteristic of the U.S.-Iranian relationship and it is not likely to change in the near future,” she said.