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During a demanding negotiation, when interests at stake are radically divergent and it seems that there is no more room for the dialogue, a radical shift in the approach to the pourparler could be the turning point of the whole negotiation, even in case of major discussions over national interests, such as the controversial right of the Islamic Republic of Iran to carry on the uranium enrichment process started in 2006.

In effect, this article highlights how a radical shift of the Iranian negotiators’ approach to the nuclear dossier, which opposed the Islamic Republic to the international community, led to the signature of the so-called Vienna Agreement in July 2015.

By shunning the bombastic and confrontational language that had become the hallmark of the Islamic Republic’s officials, Mr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iranian Foreign Minister and chief of the Iranian delegation,  build up a personal relation with foreign diplomats thanks to his easy smile and mastery of English.

In conclusion, when the negotiation is stuck and all options seem inconsistent, a “smile” approach to the negotiation could be more useful than a simple force demonstration, and, in some cases, it could even bring to make an agreement over a nuclear issue possible.


Image source: Flickr wewiorka_wagner  (CC BY-SA 2.0)