Inside Story

Is Iran ready for change?

As Tehran offers to limit its nuclear programme, we ask if it will be enough to improve ties with the West.

Last Modified: 10 Oct 2013 13:41
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Relations between the West and Iran appear to be warming as Tehran offers to limit its nuclear programme.

... Iran's international isolation coupled with its dire economic situation which has been a result of the sanctions has created a situation whereby the continuation of the previous policies was totally untenable.

Mehrdad Khonsari, a former Iranian diplomat

The Iranians are said to have put together a new proposal that would mean it stops making near weapons-grade nuclear material in return for sanctions being relaxed.

William Hague, British foreign minister said, "A substantial change in British or Western policies requires a substantive change in that programme.

"However, we must test the Iranian government's sincerity to the full and it is important that our channels of communication are open for that."

So what impact could closer ties with the West have on Iran's neighbours?

It is likely to upset Israel which continues to say Iran should not be trusted - Netanyahu even describing Iran's President Hassan Rouhani as a "wolf in sheep's clothing".

The Gulf countries have also warned Washington against moving too quickly to improve ties with Tehran.

But Iran is expected to play a vital role in the run up to the Geneva II Middle East peace conference, in helping to end the ongoing war in Syria. And having Iran on side could possibly mean more flexibility from Bashar al-Assad's government.

... partly sanctions have contributed to this but there is domestic economic policies that contributed to this as well ...

Jim Walsh, an international security expert

So, if Iran is on board where does this leave Syria?

This flurry of diplomatic manoeuvres is raising hopes of a rapprochement between the West and Iran, and Tehran is expected to prepare a package of proposals to defuse tensions over its nuclear activities.

But is this enough to build trust? Or is the West determined to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions at any price?

Inside Story, with presenter Jane Dutton, discusses with guests: Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of Political Science at Tehran University; Jim Walsh, an international security expert and research associate at MIT; Mehrdad Khonsari, a former Iranian diplomat and a political analyst at the Centre for Arab and Iranian studies.

"The mood in Iran is the mood of hope and wishful thinking ... because sanctions really have made ... all the Iranians to suffer but ...

"I must emphasise that it's not only Iran that is seeking an alternative to what had been going on during the past eight years, I believe that the western [powers] particularly the United States, they are seeking a new approach because they realise that only Iranian people have been suffering as a result of sanctions, the sanctions have not really affected the Islamic regime per say. And there are many voices in the West, in the United states, against the sanctions ... "

Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of Political Science at Tehran University


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