News / Middle East

    The Right Timing for a Thaw in US-Iran Relations?

    Time May be Right for True Thaw in US-Iran Relationsi
    X
    September 24, 2013 6:01 PM
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's new foreign minister, Javid Zarif, are set to talk later this week at the United Nations -- part of a meeting of world powers concerned about Tehran's nuclear program. But is this, perhaps, the first step in what will be a significant thaw in U.S.-Iran relations? VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's new foreign minister, Javid Zarif, are set to talk later this week at the United Nations as part of a meeting of world powers concerned about Tehran's nuclear program. Some analysts believe this may be the first step in a significant thaw in U.S.-Iran relations.
     
    In Iran, memories of the massive celebrations following the election of President Hassan Rouhani remain fresh in the minds of many - as are the hopes that a new beginning with the U.S. and the rest of the world may be within reach.
     
    Hassan Rouhani

    • Elected president with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote in June, 2013
    • 64-years-old
    • Member of the Expediency Discernment Council
    • Served as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 1989 to 2005
    • Member of parliament from 1980 to 2000 
    • Member of the Assembly of Experts since 1999
    • Served as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator before Saeed Jalili
    As he departed Tehran for the U.N. on Monday, President Rouhani stoked those hopes anew when he promised to show the world Iran's "real face."
     
    President Barack Obama has also raised the possibility of a thaw throughout his presidency, and indeed as far back as his first presidential campaign.
     
    But now, as both men head to the U.N, those intentions will be put to the test.
     
    George Perkovich is director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a long-time Iran observer.
     
    “There's a lot of baggage that both sides have to empty in a sense if we are going to start clean," he said. "Americans profoundly distrust Iran. And what I like to say to people here [in Washington] is that the Iranian government distrusts America a thousand times more."
     
    US-Iran Relations
     
    • Iran, U.S. leaders have not had face-to-face contact in more than three decades.
    • U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Iran's Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi were the last to meet in 1977.
    • U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki fail to hold talks on stabilizing Iraq at a 2007 Sharm el-Sheikh conference, but greet each other at a lunch
    • U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have exchanged letters since Rouhani's 2013 election
    Yet even as much of the world remains suspicious of Iran's true intentions, many observers think this time conditions may be right for change.
     
    Iran's economy has been badly damaged by sanctions and is struggling with soaring unemployment and inflation. 
     
    President Obama, already wary of U.S. involvement in Syria, may not want to resort to military force to put Iran's nuclear program out of business.
     
    According to Michael O'Hanlon at the Brookings Institution, "there's a real possibility that if there's a genuine compromise here to be had, that both sides would actually grab it."
     
    The question to be sorted out this week at the U.N. -- very likely behind the scenes -- is whether the beginnings of such a deal are indeed there for the making.

    Jeff Seldin

    Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
    September 24, 2013 4:50 AM
    Iran has a long way to go to earn the trust of the global community. One can say the same thing about us. However, this may be an opportunity for both sides to show whether we and Iran mean what we both say. Who knows, this could be the beginning of the end of the whole mess in the middle east or it could be just empty words. At the very least, we must give it a try. We can be skeptic of Iran's intentions, but so can they. Nevertheless, we must give it a chance. One never knows of the outcome, if two parties don't even make an attempt to talk. Mr. Obama, give it a try.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora