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Iran's "Dignity" Dialogue

Tehran Changed Its Negotiating Tactics—Here's Why

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (L) walks in a courtyard at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne, March 28, 2015. Brendan Smialowski / Reuters

In November 2013, just before Tehran signed the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) with the P5+1 negotiating partners, the Iranians released a YouTube message. The video went viral, partly due to the content, which was remarkable, but even more so because of the choice of medium. Seated against a backdrop of books and a flag, Iran’s English-speaking foreign minister became the first-ever Iranian leader to directly address the world, through an outlet long banned by the Islamic Republic.

Mohammad Javad Zarif did not begin his address with a lecture about Iran’s “rights,” which, to some, appeared odd. At the time, custom held that any official utterance about the nuclear program begin with a demarcation of Iran’s declared rights. Indeed, “nuclear energy is our inalienable right,” had turned into the Iranian mantra under the administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.   

But Zarif, who holds a Ph.D. in International Law

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