U.S. Responds Positively to Iran's Pursuit of a Diplomatic Breakthrough

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Posted Oct. 2, 2013

Interview with Reza Marashi, research director with the National Iranian-American Council, conducted by Scott Harris

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It’s been 34 years since the U.S. and Iran broke off diplomatic relations in the aftermath of Iran’s November 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, not long after a popular revolution overthrew the hated U.S.-supported dictator Sha Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Although the 52 U.S. hostages held by Iran were released in January 1981, normal relations between the two governments were never restored.

Now, with the election of a new Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, there’s been a diplomatic breakthrough coinciding with the annual September United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City. After a historic phone conversation between Presidents Obama and Rouhani, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, the highest-level contact between the two governments since 1979.

At issue for the West is Iran’s nuclear research program. While the Islamic Republic asserts it only seeks to develop civilian nuclear energy production, the U.S. and its allies have long charged that Iran is covertly working to build a nuclear weapons program, contravening U.N. resolutions prohibiting specific research activity and requiring International Atomic Energy Agency inspections and transparency. Iran’s priority in future talks will be to end damaging international economic sanctions. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Reza Marashi, research director with the National Iranian-American Council, who discusses the recent diplomatic breakthrough between Iran and the U.S. and the prospects for successful negotiations leading to an accord on the future of Iran's nuclear program.

For more analysis and commentary on U.S. Iranian relations, visit the National Iranian-American Council at NIACouncil.org.

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