As the March 31st deadline closely approached, the negotiators of the Iranian nuclear talks decided to extend the talks by another day. (The New York Times 3/31/2015) There have been many reports on the contents and progress of the negotiations, but due to the dynamic nature of the negotiation itself, it would be best not to speculate until the final outcome of the negotiation is reached.

There have been many opponents of the appeared trajectory of the negotiation, including the Prime Minister of Israel (The New York Times 3/3/2015) and Republicans in the US Congress (The New York Times 3/9/2015). The main criticism distills to the fact that the International Community is being too lenient to Iran without Iran categorically giving up its Nuclear weapons. In a sense, whatever the outcome of the negotiations might be, the talks are pointless.

Even if, regardless of the outcome, the Iranian nuclear talks might be pointless for US and its allies’ interests, there is a reputation cost for pulling out of the talks prematurely, until all options appeared to have been explored diplomatically.

If the US pulls out of the talks with the international public perception that not all diplomatic route has been explored, then it would make future participation of any critical multilateral negotiations by the US more difficult. Other major powers would question the US commitment in engaging future multilateral negotiations given that the US might pull out of the engagement prematurely out of self interest.

Why would the foreign ministers from other countries spend weeks of intensive talks in a multilateral setting if the US might ruin the negotiation by leaving early? It would be a waste of everyone’s time, given the amount of time invested by all members in the negotiations with little to no result in the talks.

This might explain the commitment of full participation of all party members in the Iranian nuclear talks. If any member leaves prematurely, that member would incur a reputation cost and might be shutout of other critical multilateral talks in the future. Specifically with the US, there are still the possibility of the six party talks reigniting with North Korea. If the US pulls out of the current multilateral talks with Iran, then they might be shut off of the potential multilateral talks with North Korea.

With or without palpable result in the end, the US and other nations have a key interest to explore all diplomatic possibilities in order to make future multilateral negotiations possible.


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