Can the U.S. and Iran Be Friends?
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Can there be a breakthrough for diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran? Should the US end the sanctions against Iran if the country changes course over its nuclear program?
Is “peace within reach” as Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani declared at the United Nations this week? He is seen to be more moderate than the former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and is willing to build a better relationship with the West. President Rouhani has insisted that his country’s nuclear program is for generating energy only and, as such, he has called for an end to the sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. But the threat of Iran going nuclear presents too much of a danger to America, the Gulf States, and Israel, and thus Washington needs to be convinced that this is not happening.
The U.S. and other Western countries believe Iran is seeking to develop a weapons capability and the US has been enforcing sanctions on Iran for decades – first imposed in 1979, after the hostage crisis and strengthened in 1984 after the invasion of Iran by Iraq. Embargoes were placed on oil exports and Iran was blocked from international banking networks, penalties which have contributed to escalating inflation and unemployment.
Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations says this opportunity to seek conciliatory talks with Rouhani may be the last chance for the US and Iran to try diplomacy. In the Daily Beast he supports a compromise by permitting limited uranium enrichment in Iran, backed by inspection agreements.
President Rouhani has indicated cooperation and compromise by reiterating the Ayatollah’s pledge that Iran would not deploy nuclear weapons, by releasing several regime critics from jail, and by backing the surrender of chemical weapons in Syria. He is open to talks as ordinary Iranians do not want war. Instead, they want an end to sanctions and economic suffering.
But concrete actions are needed from Iran to convince America and the UN of his words and deep suspicions remain on both sides. “I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans,” Rouhani said.
Can diplomacy make this happen?
NPR Morning Edition segment Kerry Vows To Keep Assessing Iran’s Nuclear Intentions – Sept 27, 2013
Secretary of State Kerry and his counterparts from Britain, France, Russia, China and the European Union met with Iran’s foreign minister at the United Nations on Thursday. They left the meeting praising Iran’s new tone, but saying there is a lot of work to be done in dealing with Iran’s suspect nuclear program. The talks resume in Geneva in mid-October.
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowIran
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KQED Forum episode Openings for Diplomacy With Iran? – Sept. 27, 2013
Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani delivered a message of tolerance to the United Nations this week. He said the United States and Iran can “manage our difference” and that “peace is within reach,” while calling the sanctions against his country over its nuclear program a form of violence. We discuss the possibilities for diplomacy with President Rouhani and the nuclear future of Iran.
PBS NewsHour video How Should the U.S. Proceed With Iran Diplomacy? – Sept. 26, 2013
Top officials from the U.S. and Iran met for the first time in 30 years. How serious is Iran about making a deal with the international community on their nuclear program? Judy Woodruff talks to Flynt Leverett of Penn State University, Suzanne Maloney of Brookings Institution and former CIA case officer Reuel Marc Gerecht.
New York Times postHandshake With Iran Might Say Much More – Sept. 25, 2013
Includes an interactive timeline on Iran’s nuclear program.
It has become the diplomatic big tease of the year, a rumored geopolitical rendezvous that, if not quite as momentous as Nixon and Mao in 1972, would still rank as a landmark encounter for two countries that have been estranged for more than three decades.
Huff Post World post Iran’s Rouhani Wants Nuclear Deal Without Conflict In ‘New Era’ – Sept. 27, 2013
Includes a video segment entitled “Rouhani’s Private Dinner (Behind the Scenes)
You need not possess a doctorate in diplomacy to summon skepticism for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s rhetorical peace campaign. Whatever his arrival on the world stage represents, whatever his genuine personal inclinations, he operates within an autocratic system ruled by an insular clique that justifies mass human rights abuses in the name of religious dogma.