msnbc | March 10, 2012
>>> toward renewing talks with iran about its nuclear program . at a meeting in denmark european union foreign approximately see chief katherine ashton said that talks with iran should now advance, quote, swiftly and seriously, and the u.s., britain, france and germany are being joined by russia and china in urging talks with iran . joining me from washington is former secretary of state p.j. crowley. good to see you.
>> hello, alex.
>> any indication that diplomacy and sanctions will actually work? do you think iran is serious this time?
>> that's what we're going to find out next month. there will be a first round of talks with iran in more than a year. i don't know that this first round of talks will necessarily be successful. i think there's still quite a gap between iran and the west. what i think the united states will be being looking for as well as the other participants with the p-1 plus-5 process is the sustained dialogue. before we've had one or two meetings and things have stalled for one reason or another. this conversation was very complex and it's very difficult, and it needs to take place over a long period of time so whether or not iran is committed to this path we'll find out soon.
>> can you tell me what those talks look like? i'm curious, what does the u.s. say? how much do they participate? how do they develop?
>> you states, for example, the ambassador wendy sherman, the policy chief for the state department . for iran it will be jalili who is their representative of this process. it's going to be very difficult. for example, hypothetically i could see where katherine ashton sits down and says, look, we need to understand. we need to see a commitment from you to the seriousness of this negotiation so why don't you suspend your uranium enrichment as a gesture to get the talks going. iran might say, okay. i might be willing to do that, but you've got sanctions coming up in june that are literally going to disconnect my economy from the rest of the world , forego those sanctions so that we have an environment that allows these talks to go forward with some mutual confidence and that's going to be very, very difficult negotiating position, for example, for the united states to support in the middle of the election year.
>> how is it that you obtained from iran then, negotiations in good faith. let's say those sanctions were taken off the table to try to accommodate their request, thinking they're going come to the table and be seriously bargaining about this. how do you know?
>> well, i think a commitment to a lengthy dialogue will give you some indication, but this is very, very difficult. ultimately this -- you know, there are two camps here. there's what i might call the apocalypse camp and those that feel that iran is going to get a nuclear wep sapon and when it gets it, it will use it. that camp wants to bomb i rab yesterday. there's the irrational camp, and not withstanding how problematic this regime is they are able to make pragmatic calculations depending on their self-interest. you still have this division of iran saying look, i have a right to enrich uranium and we're not going give this up. and you're out of compliance with your national obligations. you have to show us that your nuclear program is for civilian purposes and not for military purposes. that divide still exists and the ability of both these sides to get over that divide will be very, very difficult.
>> iran's supreme leader ayatollah khamenei praised president obama for diplomacy. p.j., how unusual is that?
>> it is unusual. this is where 30 years of frozen, diplomatic relations really becomes an obstacle to progress, and it was very difficult because you have hardliners on both this side and that side that make the politics of this very difficult. we eventually understood after years and decades of negotiations with the soviet union and not withstanding our problems, we could find ways to cooperate. we even find ways to cooperate with north korea , but because of the lack of diplomacy and real interaction over 30 years both sides find this conversation difficult to start, much less difficult to sustain.
>> i also have my conversations with you, though, p.j. crowley. thank you so much.
>> always a pleasure.