Learning from the Past in the Iranian Nuclear Dispute

by Tytti Erästö | published April 16, 2014

For background on the international law aspects of the Iranian nuclear issue, see Aslı Ü. Bâli, “International Law and the Iran Impasse,” Middle East Report Online, December 16, 2012.

For more on the election of Rouhani, see Kevan Harris, “An ‘Electoral Uprising’ in Iran,” Middle East Report Online, July 19, 2013 and “Iran, the Twenty-First-Century Island of Stability,” MERIPblog, September 28, 2013.

The controversy over the Iranian nuclear program is in many ways a product of the US-Iranian conflict. The United States and Iran are in the grip of mutual negative perceptions that, in turn, have been reinforced by the escalatory dynamics of the nuclear dispute. After years of seeming diplomatic deadlock, these dynamics suddenly changed for the better in the autumn of 2013. The positive trends culminated in November, when Iran agreed with the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany, the so-called P5+1, on a confidence-building deal known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPA). Given the record of diplomatic non-achievement, the deal is a historic development. The parties began to implement the JPA in January 2014; it is supposed to pave the way for far more ambitious next steps.

Although the de-escalation and the JPA are generally associated with the election of Hassan Rouhani as president of the Islamic Republic and the subsequent change in Iran’s foreign policy orientation, these developments cannot be fully understood without taking into account the simultaneous changes on the Western side. Indeed, the summer of 2013 was a crucial period of introspection on both sides when fixed ideas and narratives began to give way to more flexible positions. The following discussion, based on interviews with negotiators and diplomats on both sides, shows that each side was reaching a critical point in a learning process around the time of Rouhani’s victory.


The US began to have suspicions about the extent and intent of Iran’s nuclear program in the 1990s. In those years, the Clinton administration put pressure on foreign companies to cut off Iranian access to civilian nuclear technology. [1] Iranian officials frequently evoke this history when arguing for the Islamic Republic’s need for a domestic enrichment program. [2] But it was only in response to the 2002 revelation of undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran that proliferation concerns became shared internationally. Iran’s initial response to international concerns was a comprehensive offer for bilateral negotiations with the US in 2003. [3] The Bush administration rejected the offer, reflecting the imperial mood following the Iraq invasion, as well as denial of the Islamic Republic’s legitimacy, as evident in the “axis of evil” rhetoric. Instead, “the EU-3” -- Great Britain, France and Germany -- began negotiations with Iran, resulting in an agreement whereby Iran suspended its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and the EU-3 recognized Iran’s nuclear rights, offered nuclear cooperation and made “firm commitments on security issues.” [4]
After disagreement about details ended the EU-3 initiative in 2005, Iran resumed the suspended activities and the Europeans joined the US in calling for UN Security Council action. At the same time, the P5+1 took over nuclear diplomacy with Iran. No multilateral talks were held until mid-2008. The early P5+1 approach consisted of demanding that Iran suspend all enrichment of uranium, in line with US policy and with Security Council resolutions since 2006. From the Iranian perspective, the previous experience with the Europeans had shown that the West viewed suspension as an end in itself rather than a means to a negotiated solution. [5] In what was to become a recurrent pattern, Iran responded by stepping up its nuclear activities.

The increasing risk of escalation to military confrontation arguably contributed to a change in the P5+1 approach in 2009. Based on President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to negotiate with Iran “without preconditions,” the P5+1 called their new approach “confidence building,” meaning an implicit withdrawal from Security Council demands and a shift in focus to limiting Iran’s production and stockpiles of enriched uranium. After a near diplomatic success in late 2009, however, Iran started enriching uranium up to 20 percent, the threshold at which the element is considered “high-enriched,” though not close to weapons-grade, which is 90 percent enriched. Meanwhile, the West imposed the harshest sanctions to date in the dispute on Iran’s oil industry and Central Bank. In the 2012 and spring 2013 talks, Iran was asked to suspend enrichment up to 20 percent; give away its stocks of uranium already enriched to such levels; and halt all activities at the underground Fordow enrichment plant. In return, the P5+1 offered to help Iran build a new light water reactor; to deliver spare parts for its civilian airplanes; and, in the spring of 2013 at Almaty, Kazakhstan, to give modest relief from sanctions on trade in gold, metals and petrochemicals. Iran reportedly offered to suspend 20 percent enrichment and convert its stockpile of enriched uranium to oxide (which is harder to enrich further), but only “in exchange for recognition of its right to enrich and a lifting of some banking sanctions.” [6] Each side rejected the other’s proposals.

Talks were on hold during the summer of 2013. But Rouhani’s victory brought about an unprecedented exchange of reconciliatory gestures between Tehran and Washington. When new teams of negotiators met in October, Iran reportedly offered to address outstanding concerns about uranium enrichment and asked the P5+1 to define their end goal -- were they still insisting on UN Security Council demands or were they ready to accept Iran’s right to enrichment with agreed-upon limitations? [7] At last, the parties reached the breakthrough, in the form of the JPA. This six-month process involves restriction and enhanced monitoring of Iran’s nuclear activities and more extensive sanctions relief than that included in previous offers. [8] By outlining the contours of a comprehensive deal, due in July, the P5+1 also explicitly stated their readiness to accept an Iran with an enrichment capacity.

Assessing Intentions

The three Western officials interviewed for this article took Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions for granted, although they emphasized that Iran’s goal is probably nuclear weapons capacity, rather than an actual weapon. Gary Samore was White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction until February 2013. He suggested that, even if Iran wants only breakout capacity, the P5+1 and Iran have “fundamentally different interests.” [9] Robert Einhorn was the State Department’s special adviser for non-proliferation and arms control until May 2013. He attributed Iran’s nuclear program to its desire to be “a dominant player, a hegemonic player in the Middle East,” adding that “the perception that they are close to having a nuclear weapons could be valuable in pursuing those goals.” [10] On the other hand, the Western officials agreed that Iran’s nuclear policy is also driven by existential concerns. As Einhorn suggested, the Iranians fear that any agreement “wouldn’t be enough” because “we would always ask for more until the regime was gone.” He added, “They think somehow that having this [nuclear] capability would immunize them from pressures from the West.” Asked if Western military threats might be contributing to this problem, Einhorn admitted it is possible.

Though showing sensitivity to Iranian security concerns, the Western officials had little time for Iran’s argument that the West’s past policy of technology denial is what drove the Islamic Republic to develop an indigenous enrichment program in the first place. “A cover story,” said Samore. While acknowledging the US attempts “to prevent countries from cooperating with Iran in nuclear area,” Einhorn believed that “if Iran had said we are prepared to rely on foreign sources of enriched uranium, they would have gotten guaranteed commitments of enriched uranium supplies to fuel light water reactors.”

Not surprisingly, the Iranian officials interviewed for this article dismissed the Western allegations as political. One (henceforth Iranian official A) referred to the fatwa from the Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, against nuclear weapons, going on to make a case that having such weapons would be against Iran’s interests. [11] This official stressed that the nuclear program is driven by the need to diversify Iran’s sources of energy in order to provide for the demands of a growing population. Recalling that the US once acknowledged Iran’s civilian energy needs, in the 1970s, he noted that Iran’s population has doubled since then. The change in the US position after 1979, he said, illustrates the political nature of the dispute. The second official (Iranian official B) pointed to a more general problem. Comparing the nuclear dispute to Western attempts to label the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry as a threat to international security, he said, “Unfortunately, there is a kind of colonial thinking that a Third World country cannot have…this sensitive technology.” “In theory, they will say that all states are equal, but in practice…they don’t accept this.” [12]

The Blame Game

The Western interviewees saw the failure of nuclear talks to date as resulting mainly from Iran’s non-constructive position -- “to give basically nothing and to ask for everything,” as the third Western official, who wished to remain anonymous, put it. [13] Samore argued that the Iranians have “clearly demonstrated that they’re prepared to cheat or renege on agreements when they think it’s in their interests.” The ex-White House man also believed that “up to now the Iranians have just not been willing to give their negotiators authority to sit down and actually try to come up with a basis for an agreement.” This problem he traced to the “suspicion” and “stubbornness” of the Leader. Ayatollah Khamenei, Samore argued, rejected bilateral talks with the US because “at the end of the day, he prefers to have the US as an enemy rather than a friend.” The anonymous Western official, who refrained from talking about Khamenei’s intentions, agreed that the period from 2007 to Rouhani’s election was “difficult [because the Iranians] did not really engage in substance.” Instead, he said, Iranian negotiators “had lots of general statements on their rights,” giving the impression that they did not “really want to make concessions.”
Given these negative views of Iran, it was somewhat striking that two of the three Western interviewees considered it possible that the entire nuclear confrontation might have been avoided if the Bush administration had been willing to talk to Iran. “I have some inclination to believe,” said the anonymous official, that crisis could have been averted had the US been more supportive of the EU-3 during the 2003-2005 talks. Samore was more skeptical, but admitted that it was “one of the big unanswered questions” and wished that “we had run that experiment.”

Mirroring Western discourse, the Iranian officials blamed the P5+1 for the persistence of the dispute. On the one hand, the Iranians criticized the other side for lack of sensitivity and respect. As official A explained, the P5+1 want to make a deal but do not know how: They focus only on commitments, forgetting about rights and showing no respect for Iranian concerns. Official B, too, stressed that one “must listen to the other side’s demands” while negotiating. On the other hand, it seemed to the Iranians that the West is not genuinely interested in a negotiated solution. “Unfortunately,” official B said, “they don’t want to find a solution for this problem.” Official A referred to the implacable hostility to the Islamic Republic in some American quarters. Interaction with Iran or regime change -- which does the US want? He further pointed out that, in addition to willingness, one needs readiness and ability to work for a diplomatic solution. The Obama administration, he suggested, lacked the last of these three qualities.

The Effects of Coercion

The Western officials seemed united in the conviction that diplomacy with Iran needs to be backed by sanctions. Samore said the purpose of sanctions is “to produce flexibility at the bargaining table” and “obtain nuclear concessions.” Does not the difficulty of lifting sanctions, due to opposition in Congress, undermine their contribution to diplomacy? Samore did not seem to see a major problem here: The P5+1 “would be happy to lift sanctions if Iran would accept verifiable limits on their nuclear program…. If there was a deal that actually satisfied US concerns…the administration would be able to convince Congress that the sanctions should be lifted.” Einhorn admitted that it is “easier to impose sanctions than to remove them” but likewise believed that lifting sanctions is possible depending on the prevailing political environment. The third official, however, was much less optimistic, and went on to suggest that domestic resistance to lifting sanctions partly explained the diplomatic deadlock. The problem, he explained, “is that the Obama administration is not in control of what the US is doing.” Given that it was even difficult for the EU to “get the necessary assurances from the US administration that Congress will not…do something which is negatively affecting us,” he wondered -- assuming a deal were to be negotiated -- how Iran could “have any confidence that the US president…will be able to implement such a deal” or that the bargain “would not fall apart once implementation has been launched.”

Deploring the West’s coercive approach, Iranian official B stressed that diplomacy was a “way to find a solution, not to use a gun with a white flag” and that it would be “impossible to impose something on the Iranians to change their behavior.” He wondered on what grounds Iran is always required “to show everything in its hand” while the other side reserves for itself an unlimited right to threaten and impose new sanctions. In addition to its own apparent right to a nuclear bomb, he noted, Israel is also given the freedom “every day to threaten Iran” and to draw red lines at the UN. The same official compared the cyber-war against Iran’s nuclear facilities to missile attacks. He further explained Iran’s unwillingness to engage in bilateral talks with the Obama administration with reference to the West’s confrontational approach. As he explained, “On the one hand, they say that we want to talk with you and, on the other hand, they threaten [and] add every day a sanction.” He added, “We only see their stick, never…their carrot. This is a problem.”

Obstacles to Confidence Building

The anonymous Western official who was concerned about the US ability to deliver on a deal did not let Iran off the hook. The Iranians, he argued, completely lost the confidence of their interlocutors. “[It is] not up to us to rebuild this confidence. It’s up to Iran.” It was understood on the Western side, however, that in practice confidence building would mean bargaining based on reciprocal concessions. No Western interviewee seemed worried about concessions, since each thought that previous offers, in Einhorn’s words, were “totally balanced.” Einhorn regarded the incentives offered to Iran in the 2013 Almaty talks as “quite significant,” while Samore described the offer as a “kind of small for small.” Einhorn acknowledged that, under that proposal, Iran “wouldn’t get what they wanted most” but added that “we wouldn’t get what we wanted most,” either. Asked if the proffered sanctions relief was in fact rather slight, the third Western interviewee explained that “you cannot give a lot” in exchange for “a very modest step from Iran” because there is “still a huge area of other concerns” and “you have to…keep your assets for the other issues.” As for Iran’s counter-proposal to the P5+1 offer, Einhorn described it as “almost a joke, frankly.” Yet Einhorn and the anonymous Western official acknowledged the gap in perceptions as to what constitutes balance. “Maybe from an Iranian perspective,” said the latter, “the other side did not provide some really attractive incentives which you can sell.”

Reflecting the general Iranian position that the P5+1 offers were unbalanced, Iranian official B pointed out that “confidence building is a two-way road, not a one-way road.” “When we want to negotiate, it is better we put everything on the table -- what we have, what they have -- and try to find a conclusion and compromise.” He emphasized that “we don’t want to have a defeat policy -- we want to have a win-win policy.” Referring to the P5+1’s 2012 offer of spare parts and repairs for aircraft in exchange for Iranian nuclear concessions, official A said it was “just crazy.” As for the P5+1’s nuclear-related incentives, a document in the latter official’s possession highlighted that the P5+1 were obliged to deliver the elements that they were now offering as incentives: “Placing technical cooperation…in the shadow of political measures is contrary to the dignity and specialized status of the International Atomic Energy Agency.” [14] The document noted as well that, in contrast to the strict demands made upon Iran, the wording of Western incentives was vague, serving to further “deepen the distrust and uncertainty on the Iranian side.” [15]

The Iranian officials suggested Iran might suspend 20 percent enrichment as part of a more balanced deal, indicating that this step is mainly a bargaining chip. It seemed, however, that the Western demands to close down the Fordow enrichment facility (2012) or suspend activities there (2013) would be unacceptable as long as the threat of military action against Iran persisted. “Fordow has a lot of expense for us,” official B said. “If they didn’t threaten our facilities on the ground, why [would] we go underground?” He added, “Every day Israel threatens we want to bomb…[Iranian facilities] and we go under the ground -- it’s a kind of defense policy.” The aforementioned document said the same: “Facing constant threats, we need a backup facility to safeguard our enrichment activities.” [16]

In light of the strategic importance of Fordow from the Iranian perspective, why did the West place so much emphasis on suspending activities in the facility? Einhorn explained that “we didn’t think we were asking too much” because the facility was very small compared to the other enrichment plant at Natanz -- “like a drop in a bucket.” Asked why the presence of IAEA inspectors in Fordow was not enough to alleviate Western concerns, the third official pointed to the possibility “that Iran would just under the eyes of the IAEA…install more capacity, produce more material and then suddenly find some pretext [to] withdraw from the NPT.” Although he recognized that Fordow is viewed as a “high-value facility” by Iran, the official stressed that it would be fine if “we just ask them to stop the operations. This will not mean to destroy the facility.”

Toward a Comprehensive Approach

The Western interviewees took a tough line with regard to oil and financial sanctions. In Samore’s words, “those are our biggest sanctions,” which should not be traded except for “the biggest nuclear concessions.” By that phrase, he meant limiting Iran’s capacity to produce fissile material, meaning “enrichment and, potentially, production of plutonium.” The third official said that such a discussion would become relevant only at a later stage -- “after an initial confidence-building step” and as part of “full-fledged negotiations.” Einhorn made a similar argument, recalling that “it took us a long time to build these sanctions” and that “once sanctions are suspended, it’s very hard to get them restored.” He continued, “We have to be pretty sure, before we actually lift sanctions -- or even suspend them -- that the Iranians are sincere.”

The problem from the Iranian perspective, however, was that the P5+1’s incremental approach did not involve a discussion on the end state and thus failed to build confidence in Western intentions. As Iranian official A explained, Iran had developed great distrust for the other side during the previous negotiations. Recalling that Iran had provided more than 1,000 pages of declarations and allowed intrusive inspections beyond its legal obligations, he wondered whether there was ever going to be an “end to this story.” He called for some guarantee that the process will reach a conclusion.

In light of the Iranian concerns, what had prevented the West from pursuing a more comprehensive deal or a discussion on the end state thus far? The anonymous Western official pointed out that such a deal “would take ages to negotiate,” and that a discussion on the end goals at this stage would be meaningless because Iran would not trust that those goals would be maintained. Responding to the question of why it is so difficult to recognize Iran’s right to enrichment, he asked, “Why should we recognize any specific rights which are not specifically mentioned [in the NPT] -- in particular in a situation where a country is in violation of its obligations?” (The US stance has long been that the NPT’s guarantee of an “inalienable right of all parties to the treaty to develop the research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes” does not cover enrichment of uranium.) Samore also suggested that this question is partly one of principle. On the other hand, he referred to the concern that Iran would simply claim “an unqualified right to enrichment” that “cannot be limited in any way.” Einhorn shared this view, noting that “politically for the US it’s not very easy to accept a domestic enrichment program in Iran,” especially “before the Iranians had given any indication that they’re prepared to accept real limitations” to their program. Both Samore and Einhorn suggested, however, that the P5+1 position on this issue might change depending on circumstances. As Einhorn noted, acknowledging Iran’s right to enrich “would be a big concession” that the P5+1 are reluctant -- both “politically and strategically” -- to make “until there was any tangible basis to believe that the Iranians were prepared to make compromises.”
Samore and Einhorn seemed to have come to the conclusion that the piecemeal confidence-building approach had proven itself ineffective. Therefore, Samore anticipated that there was “a good chance that after the [Iranian] presidential elections the US will try to work toward agreement in the P5+1 on a comprehensive deal.” Nevertheless, Samore had little faith in Iran’s interest in a comprehensive deal because it “would be tantamount to giving up its effort to produce nuclear weapons.” Einhorn seemed more optimistic. As he argued,

It’s coming to the point where it would be advisable to explain to the Iranians what the end state would be.… We’ve made hints…that we can accept an enrichment program but we haven’t been explicit about that yet…. It doesn’t mean you go right to the end state. You can begin with a confidence-building step, but you give the Iranians an indication of where this is heading.

Speaking right after Rouhani’s election, Einhorn thought that the summer of 2013 provided an opportunity for the P5+1 to discuss a change of strategy.

As for the Iranian views on the prospects for the success of the coming talks, the interviewees seemed to think that the ball is in the P5+1’s court. Official A noted that, as a result of the previous rounds of talks, each side has plenty of information about the other’s views. The success of a potential deal depends on details. Official B expressed cautious optimism about the future, anticipating that the Rouhani team’s “tone of talking…will be easier for the P5+1…. It’s possible there will be a better understanding between the two sides.” At the same time, he added that “surely Iran will not change its main strategy [nor]…accept anything against [its] inevitable rights.”

Lessons from the Past

Negative perceptions clearly persisted in the views of the five Western and Iranian interviewees in the summer of 2013. Each side viewed the other as harboring ill intent and each blamed the other for a non-constructive approach to the nuclear negotiations. At the same time, the officials distanced themselves from the most extreme claims. The Western officials saw Iran as being after a nuclear weapons capability but not necessarily the bomb, for reasons in line with what could be called realist assumptions of rationality -- that is, power and influence, but also insecurity created by the US-Iranian conflict and the escalation of the nuclear confrontation. Although the Iranian officials dismissed the Western proliferation concerns as politically motivated, they simultaneously acknowledged the difference between the Obama administration and hardliners in Congress.

Taken together, the statements left room for the interpretation that -- rather than an intractable conflict of interests -- the main obstacle to dispute resolution to date had been the mistrust created by ambiguity about the other side’s intentions. In other words, until the summer of 2013, neither side was ready to make meaningful concessions given their low expectations of diplomatic success. To this surmise, it should be added that throughout much of the nuclear dispute the West gave priority to coercion and diplomacy based on compromise was therefore ruled out. A major change in the Western approach had occurred already in 2009, as the incoming Obama administration acknowledged that sanctions alone would not produce results. Nevertheless, coercion was still a key part of the Western idea of diplomacy at the time of the interviews, as some officials seemed to be waiting for Iran to accept the P5+1’s earlier proposal as a result of the pressure created by the oil and Central Bank sanctions. A third, perhaps less obvious explanation for the failure of previous talks could be what political psychologists call “concession aversion”: People dislike losing more than they like winning, and when bargaining they tend to overvalue their own concessions while underestimating those of others. [17] In this regard, both sides were arguably held back because their key assets -- that is, the sanctions regime on the Western side and progress in nuclear research on the Iranian side -- have become highly politicized over the years.

How, then, were the parties able to overcome mutual mistrust and concession aversion in the autumn of 2013? It seems that both sides reached a critical point in a learning process. As noted by Samore and Einhorn, by the summer of 2013 it had become clear that the P5+1’s confidence-building approach was not working. It was logical to try a different, more comprehensive approach, although at the time there was still vacillation between sticking to the accustomed track and going further. Though neither Iranian official said so, it may be said that the result of the 2013 presidential election indicates learning on the Iranian side: There was broad consensus that the confrontational style pursued President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was making things worse. The resulting change in Iran’s international image, as well as the gestures of good will by US and Iranian leaders, engendered trust that two key parties to the dispute were now determined to reach a diplomatic solution. This trust, in turn, facilitated the justification of the new comprehensive approach to Western audiences, allowing the incorporation of more significant confidence-building steps in the JPA. While the West was finally prepared to define the end goal (thus implicitly accepting Iran’s right to enrichment), Iran gave up on its previous insistence that the P5+1 explicitly recognize such a right at an early stage. Moreover, the West offered more sanctions relief and Iran accepted more limitations to its nuclear program than had previously seemed possible. At the same time, the West apparently acknowledged Iran’s need to hold on to the underground site in Fordow due to its defensive value, at least for the time being, and Iran accepted that relief from the most crippling sanctions is not possible at this stage.

Perhaps the main lesson to be drawn from this experience is that perceptions not only matter, but in fact are crucial for shaping the disputant parties’ intentions and thus the entire conflict. The more it has seemed to Iran that the US is focused on regime change and containment, the more reason Iran has had to hold on to all aspects of its enrichment program, which in turn has empowered hardliners on both sides. For the most part, the Iranian nuclear dispute illustrates the dangers of self-fulfilling prophecy. More recent events, however, demonstrate that such dynamics can be reversed, given sufficient political will and the right political circumstances on both sides. Such a window of opportunity was created in 2013 as both sides worked to minimize ambiguity about their intentions. The Iranians adopted a more moderate and consistent diplomatic style, while the Western parties to the dispute took the crucial step of defining their end goal, thus alleviating the Iranian suspicion that there would be no end to Western demands.

The task of managing perceptions will undoubtedly be crucial for future diplomacy as well. In this sense, the successful completion of the JPA by June 2014 would itself be an important achievement, as it would further bolster the precarious trust between the parties, and perhaps boost the political momentum for bolder steps even if the July deadline for a comprehensive solution is not met. At the same time, a sense of disillusionment with the ongoing diplomatic efforts might bring the parties back to square one -- or worse, empower those forces on both sides whose interests truly are irreconcilable. It is precisely such high stakes, however, that might help create the necessary political will on both sides to overcome the remaining obstacles.

Author’s Note: Thanks to the Stanton Foundation for supporting my research in 2012-2013, including the collection of material for this article.


[1] Aslı Ü. Bâli, “The US and the Iranian Nuclear Impasse,” Middle East Report 241 (Winter 2006).
[2] See, for example, Javad Zarif, “Tackling the Iran-US Crisis: Need for a Paradigm Shift,” Journal of International Affairs 60/2 (Spring-Summer 2007).
[3] The text of this offer is printed in an appendix to Trita Parsi, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the US (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007).
[4]IAEA Information Circular,” INFCIRC/637 (November 26, 2004).
[5] See Javad Zarif, “UN Security Council 5612th Meeting,” December 23, 2006.
[6] Laura Rozen, “The P5+1 Nuclear Proposal to Iran in Almaty: Document,” Al-Monitor, June 9, 2013.
[7] For details, see Barbara Slavin, “Iran’s New Nuclear Proposal,” Al-Monitor, October 17, 2013.
[8] For details, see “The Joint Plan of Action,” November 24, 2013.
[9] Interview with Gary Samore, June 12, 2013, Cambridge, MA. All subsequent quotations of Samore are from this interview.
[10] Interview with Robert Einhorn, June 17, 2013, Cape Cod, MA. All subsequent quotations of Einhorn are from this interview.
[11] Interview with Iranian official A, June 26, 2013. Subsequent quotations are from this interview.
[12] Interview with Iranian official B, August 27, 2013. Subsequent quotations are from this interview.
[13] Interview with anonymous Western official, August 28, 2013. Subsequent quotations are from this interview.
[14] “Iran’s Response to the P5+1 Offer,” document handed to the author by Iranian official A, June 26, 2013.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Jack Levy, “Loss Aversion, Framing and Bargaining: The Implications of Prospect Theory for International Conflict,” International Political Science Review 17/2 (April 1996).

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