I see no downside in talking to Iran. At worst, we gain more information; at best we might actually reach some agreements. Even if we can’t reach some agreements, we at least are better informed.

We talked to Moscow during the worst year of Joseph Stalin. We talked to Beijing under Mao and the Cultural Revolution, why wouldn’t we talk to Tehran? We even have a diplomatic mission in Cuba and Cuba has a diplomatic mission in Washington, so why don’t we talk to Tehran?

We should talk both multilaterally and bilaterally. I don’t think we should put any restrictions on the types of talks. We should talk to them whenever and wherever they are ready to talk.

We already have extensive sanctions on Iran, there is not much more we can do. We have cut off virtually every form of trade with Iran already. I am not necessarily against sanctions, they are an important instrument. However, I do think that we can’t simply hold our breath and wait for them to agree with us. We need to talk to them.

James Dobbins of the RAND Corporation testified during today's House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing negotiating with Iran. Dobbins is Director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation.