SAIS dean sees possibility for progress in Iran nuclear talks

Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, recently pointed to signs of a possible break in the diplomatic struggle over Iran's nuclear program.

Nasr said Tehran entered the latest round of talks with a slightly softened position that the United States could take advantage of if diplomatically nimble. He said the United States will have to change its negotiating strategy to take advantage of the opportunity, its first since 2009, according to the New York Times.

Nasr believes Washington must alter its policy of sanctions and intimidation by pushing for direct negotiations. These negotiations, he said, should offer Iran the prospect of lifting sanctions as a bargaining chip, reports.

"The sanctions have given America leverage, and we should use it to seek a deal that would finally restrict Iran's ability to make bomb fuel, rather than ratchet up the pressure in the hopes of getting either a broader deal now or a total surrender later," Nasr said, according to the New York Times.

The dean argues that the economic measures enforced against Iran are hitting hard at a time when its regional strategic situation is falling to pieces. Iran has been a major supporter of the faltering Syrian government and has been forced to watch largely from the sidelines as militant Sunni Islam has risen throughout the Middle East, the New York Times reports.