The statements of US Senators and Representatives on the November 24 Iran/E3+3 Joint Plan have tended to be flawed in at least two ways.

First, Iran continues to be portrayed as a state that only responds to pressure and threats.

In March 2005, Zarif made an offer to the UK, France and Germany that resembles the understandings reached on Nov. 24 in many respects. At that time Iran was not groaning under the weight of US and UN nuclear-related sanctions.

Rouhani and Zarif are not men who cringe when threatened or who buckle under pressure. They are men of character…

But the whole course of Iran’s political evolution since 1979 suggests that the hard-line element in the elite is shrinking. The majority have lost their revolutionary zeal, their desire to export Iran’s revolution. The Islamic Republic is now predominantly a conservative, status quo state, which fights to defend its interests, not to spread its Islamic values;…

A second feature of many Congressional reactions to the Joint Plan is the utter heartlessness and indifference to human distress.

The existing sanctions regime is inflicting hardship on millions of innocent Iranians, people as decent as the US citizens who elect US Representatives and Senators. US sanctions are no longer targeting those who were responsible for Iran’s policy of nuclear concealment. They are therefore unjust.

And that’s not all. Congressional attachment to sanctions demonstrates indifference to the interests of European and Asian allies. Europe and Asia have suffered economically from the imposition of sanctions. Consumers and business-people were ready to pay that price to prevent Iran becoming nuclear-armed. They are not ready to pay it to humour an Israeli hysteric or Saudi autocrats.

About the Author: Peter Jenkins was a British career diplomat for 33 years, following studies at the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He served in Vienna (twice), Washington, Paris, Brasilia and Geneva. He specialized in global economic and security issues. His last assignment (2001-06) was that of UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN (Vienna).