The Ayatollah Contemplates Compromise

WASHINGTON, DC – The recent nuclear talks in Istanbul between the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, and Iran have shifted the world’s focus to the possible terms of a deal when the sides meet again, probably in Baghdad on May 23. So, what accounts for the new seeming willingness of Iran’s leaders to reach an agreement?

Economic sanctions and political isolation have, of course, deeply hurt the regime, especially the Revolutionary Guards, whose leaders and industries have been directly targeted by the international community. But these are not the only factors.

The regime’s propaganda machine is already portraying the Istanbul talks as a triumph for the Islamic Republic and a setback for the West. Indeed, it is setting the stage for a significant compromise by preparing both the Iranian public and the global community.

Iran, it must be remembered, cares as much about its image as it does about its nuclear achievements. A successful strategy must allow Iran to come out of talks with a smile on its face, even if it gives up the most sensitive parts of its nuclear program.