Environmental cooperation with Iran provides a unique opportunity for the United States and the Europeans to build important bridges with Iran. Chandran Nair, the founder and C.E.O. of The Global Institute for Tomorrow, and the author of “Consumptionomics,” has a good proposal in his latest article: “Western nations should reach out to Tehran and propose the creation of an international body to advise Iran on the water crisis and environmental issues in general. This may seem idealistic, but there are many good precedents for outreach of this kind, including the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, a body founded in 1992 that advises China on environmental issues and whose membership includes representatives from several Western countries.”
Reflecting a greater flexibility and movement by Iranian officials to interact with American officials during visits to New York, President Hassan Rouhani held an unprecedented dinner meeting with “twenty former American officials—including a secretary of state, three national-security advisers, and a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—from all six Administrations since the 1979 revolution….Among his guests were the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the former national-security advisers Stephen Hadley, Samuel Berger, and Brent Scowcroft, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, and the former congresswoman Jane Harman, who served on the House Intelligence, Homeland Security, and Armed Services Committees.”
Today’s New York Times has an opinion piece by Haleh Esfandiary, Director of the Middle East Program, Wilson Center in Washington DC. She correctly observes the links between Iranian government’s rapprochement with the United States and attempts by hardliners in security / intelligence units to embarrass the current President Hassan Rouhani. The arrest of the Washington Post report Jason Rezaian is is an example of this attempt. The arrests of kind have happened so many times in the past decades Iran, that it is clear where and why these happen. If President Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Zarif do not take a strong position on this issue, they will undermine their own efforts and policies..