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
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.
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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 they greet each other at a lunch
  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have exchanged letters since Mr. 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 covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid