(Picture –> Foreign Minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif)
Assume failure to reach agreement in the six-party talks over Iran’s nuclear program by the target date of July 20, 2014. Russian retaliation in the talks because of Western sanctions and inability to close the divide between American and Iranian views about the interim accord of January make prospects for a permanent accord slim.
Regarding human rights, failure of the talks would provide an occasion for the Obama administration to open the door to the Iranian people not just to the regime. Washington negotiates with Beijing, yet reaches out to the Chinese people and to what the central government considers an “enemy” like the Dalai Lama. Washington should do no less with the Iranian people. And subsequent talks with Iran must include a human rights component.
If the top EU representative can meet with Iranian dissidents in Tehran, President Obama could meet with the National Council of Resistance of Iran, whose offices are within a block of the White House. Tehran is more threatened by its internal opposition than by external friends or enemies—reaching out to Iranian dissidents is the way forward in anticipation of failure of the negotiations with Iran.