SOTU 2013 Foreign Policy Conundrums: Iran

At the recent Munich Security Conference, Joe Biden said that Iran should engage in talks about its nuclear program and that Washington was willing to negotiate. John Kerry repeated the sentiment in his first major action as Secretary of State.

The aytollah no less than scoffed these overtures away - it was probably the morally correct action, given the reality of sanctions and no formal relations, but not so on the pragmatic level when political tensions are at an all-time high. We need to think creatively when dealing with Iran, and that goes as much for Washington as it does for Teheran.

This telenovela is on par the one with Pakistan, but it will have an atomically charged episode.

SOTU will have to talk about Iran. President Obama will reaffirm the commitment to a diplomatic solution, highlight that the military option is still an option in case of Iranian provocation and express the familiar verbal commitment to Israel's security.

What we might see is Obama highlighting the upcoming presidential elections in Iran and with that, the hope that democratic standards will be upkept in the Islamic Republic. As far as Iran is concerned, it is a functioning democracy by minimum standards of division of powers, representative institutions and regular elections, even if it is in the context of a theocracy with a lot of other problems - e.g. the role of women, the death sentence, LGBT rights, etc.