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John Bellinger in Washington Post – "The Iran Talks We Should End"

In a Thursday Washington Post Op-Ed piece (also displayed here at, former State Department legal adviser John Bellinger weights the pros and cons of continued U.S. involvement in the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal.

The Tribunal, established under the Algiers Accords in 1981, is composed of 9 arbitrators: 3 American, 3 Iranian, and 3 that are either appointed by the other 6, or selected by a neutral party. In his Op-Ed piece, Bellinger cites various points of Iranian friction with the tribunal as a rationale for questioning, or even walking away from, participation in the Tribunal.

One comment by Bellinger, however, implicitly points out the need for caution: “Iran’s strategy appears to be seeking to force out the third-country judges so they can be replaced by judges more to Tehran’s liking, or to provoke the U.S. administration into a dramatic overreaction.”

While Bellinger’s Op-Ed is by no means a call for precipitous withdrawal, the ramifications of hasty American reaction (such as taking the “opportunity to close down a diplomatic vestige”) could be detrimental for U.S. image and national interest. Instead, what might not hurt is Bellinger’s recommendation for making the tribunal’s future a matter to be discussed in U.S. – Iran talks.


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