While the United States only regards the challenges posed by Iran’s nuclear issue, one very important issue must not be ignored and that is how has the course of Iran's nuclear talks revealed the potentials of employing diplomacy for both sides, a reality which provided the grounds for Iran-U.S. détente.

    A crucial challenge to the process of Iranian nuclear talks has been the lack of sound understanding of the politics of Iran's decision-making process, its foreign policy aims and priorities, and its strategies toward the United States. The process of nuclear talks in different ways have helped a better understanding of Iran's calculus.

    At the domestic level, Iran's nuclear program as a source of national power has become an issue of balancing the internal structure of power. This empowers the role of state in the process of development and advancement. Over the past two centuries, the Iranian critics have always blamed the state as the main cause of underdevelopment and failure in acquiring national power and wealth. Today, the nuclear program is simultaneously perceived as a matter of technological advancement, national pride and solidarity, bolstering Iranian identity and status regionally and internationally. For this reason, all political parties in Iran demand pursuing a consistent stance in the process of nuclear talks. In this sense, despite differences of means and diplomatic styles in negotiations over nuclear program and maintaining the enrichment capability, the standard reformist and hardliner policy disagreements dissipate. Such a condition brings political cohesion and popularity for the Iranian government, subsequently reinforcing the position of Iran in nuclear talks.

    Secondly, the process of nuclear negotiations has somehow enhanced "nuclear dialogue" in Iran's centers of power. The nuclear talks have balanced different decision-making bodies such as the Supreme Leader's office, the President, the Majlis (parliament), National Security Council, and other security and intelligence bodies. Major characteristics of this process are the existing coordination between these bodies with a focus on maintaining the national interest and security, multilayer structure and balancing elements in the decision-making process, and using rationality and strategic perspectives. For instance, Iran's responses to the proposed packages of the West during 2004, 2006 and 2008, and proposal of its own independent package, convey Iran's determination to continue with the current pace of its nuclear program with the above-mentioned characteristics.

    Meanwhile, Iran's nuclear program has somehow resulted in further coordination, reinforcement and independence of the various center of power in Iran. A vivid example in this regard is the strengthening role of Iran's Majlis in nuclear talks. This feature harbors an important message, which is that the Islamic Republic of Iran evaluates its national interests in strategic terms; an experience which can be utilized as a model of decision-making in other domains of Iran's foreign policy conducts such as Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and Afghanistan.

    Finally, Iran's nuclear program has engaged the people of Iran with an important foreign policy and international relations issue. As a national issue, discussion and interaction of the government with the public over an important political-strategic issue has reinforced the role of the public in Iran's nuclear talks, showing also that Iran's nuclear program is not merely a governmental issue.

    In the region, Iran's nuclear program has shifted the conduct of Iran's regional and international relations, focusing more on strategic interests and national security concerns. The necessity of reinforcing Iran's national defense system to protect the nuclear facilities has strengthened the conception of national defense and security strategies in Iran's regional policies. The employment of "interconnected security" strategy, according to which any insecurity for Iran is equivalent to insecurity for the region, has been a successful strategy in protecting Iran's nuclear facilities.

    Given these issues, some important lessons can be gleaned to better understand Iranian actions in the region. First, Iran, through defensive measures, and by means of its regional allies will retaliate against any foreign military adventures conducted by the U.S. or Israel, and with the assistance of regional countries. Second, the region is witnessing an ascendant Iran thereby realizing the reality of how Iran sees the political dynamics of the region from a strategic perspective. Seeing Iran's aims and priorities in strategic terms, the regional actors would seek close cooperation and advanced relations with Iran, subsequently resulting in solving the regional political-security issues especially in Iraq and the Levant area.

    Finally, Iran's nuclear program as an international and strategic issue has opened new political potentials in Iran's relations with the West, especially the United States. In relations with the U.S., Iran's nuclear program has brought about new possibilities for holding direct talks after 30 years since the Islamic Revolution. Such an opportunity can help to advance cooperation to solve other regional crises in Iraq (three rounds of talks), and more recently in Afghanistan's peace talks.

    The desire to hold direct talks has been present on both sides. On the American side, Iran's increased role in the region, as well as the country's involvement in an important global and strategic issue made engagement with Iran an inevitability. On the Iranian side, likewise, having a strong and comparable stance vis-a-vis the U.S. on regional issues, together with Iran's self-reliance in tackling the U.S. military threats, has intensified the internal tendencies to start direct talks with the United States. The traditional concern of Iranian statesmen has been that Iran would lose out as a result of an asymmetrical relationship. Meanwhile, considering the U.S. as the protagonist of the nuclear talks has somehow provided the required grounds in Iran for inevitable engagement with the U.S. With the nuclear talks, therefore, the Iranians have become more realistic in advancing cooperation with the United States.

    As for the EU, Iran’s nuclear program has been a significant arena for the Iranians to test the role and position of the EU countries over the political and strategic issues of the region and the world beyond. Iran's nuclear negotiations have allowed the EU to weigh in more significantly on a political and strategic issue in the Middle East. Likewise, this issue has increased the role of the EU-3 in Iran's strategic and regional calculus. Irrespective of the past challenges, the EU emphasis on the implementation of "diplomacy" has been effective in balancing Iran's nuclear policy, as well as convincing the Iranians to stay in the track of interaction and cooperation with the West. Reacting to the tough stance of the EU-3, an Iranian standpoint maintains that Iran must cease talking with the EU, and withdraw the NPT. The Iranian Majlis in several occasions has sought reconsidering the course of talks with the EU.

    Undoubtedly, Iran-EU interactions resulted in better understanding of the two sides' political potentials. In the course of discussions, the EU has realized Iran's determination over the continuation of peaceful nuclear activities, the potentiality of the program as a national issue, or Iran's potentials to resist against the economic sanctions. From the start, therefore, the EU has rightly stressed on diplomatic solutions, a reality that the United States seems to have accepted now, announcing its willingness to join the 5+1 talks.

    Employing diplomacy in dealing with the Iran's nuclear program has, therefore, exposed the characteristics of Iran's decision-making process and its aims and priorities in the region. It has also demonstrated to what degree Iran's nuclear program is embedded in Iranian society, has its root in the geopolitics, history, identity, regional and global status of Iran. Likewise, such talks have revealed the benefits and potentials of diplomacy to the Iranian establishment, making them to be more realistic in this regard. Such a new circumstance is an opportunity for both sides.

    President Obama should take advantage of the new circumstances and encourage diplomacy and engagement to deal with Iran, providing the grounds for the Iranian establishment to meet Iran's nuclear aspirations. With good diplomacy, Iran’s nuclear issue is resolvable and can also be the main point of convergence between Iran and the United States in resolving other regional security issues i.e. in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Levant.

    During the last decades, the hardest and most controversial processes of détente between rival countries like the U.S.-Russia and U.S.- China in the 1960s and 1970s occurred after a hard and intense time following the acceptance of "comparable roles" in talks. Iran’s nuclear program can provide a momentous opportunity for Iran-U.S. détente.