As Iran's President Heads to New York, an Opportunity

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is planning his annual trip to New York City to attend the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly this month. “This will be Mr. Ahmadinejad’s first appearance at the U.N. since the Security Council strengthened sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program in June,” says Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Director of Policy Studies. “Since that time, countries in Europe and Asia have followed the lead of the U.S. by unilaterally imposing further measures that target Iran’s energy, banking, investment, and shipping sectors in an effort to apply extra pressure on Tehran to return to the negotiating table. This is all in line with the Obama administration’s ‘dual track’ approach twinning sanctions and diplomacy. Although economic pressure on Iran has been ramped up considerably, no traction has been gained on opening diplomatic channels. Negotiations are being pursued in two venues -- the P5+1 process which includes the five permanent members of the UNSC plus Germany, and the Vienna process with a likely focus on a possible nuclear fuel swap deal involving the U.S., Russia, France, as well as Turkey and Brazil. Now that the Obama administration can declare a hard won victory on the sanctions front, it should pursue a third venue for engaging Tehran that centers around a broader strategic dialogue, including the possibilities for a regional approach to Afghanistan.”

Suzanne, who is based in New York, directs the Asia Society’s Iran Initiative. To arrange an interview, contact the Asia Society communications department at 212-327-9271 or