By Jeff Seldin, VOA
After years of a sometimes tense and frosty stand-off, Iran and the United
States started talking in 2013. And while the talks, centered on Iran's
controversial nuclear program, have not exactly been smooth, many Iranians
appear to be warming to the idea of better ties with the U.S.
It was an announcement that gave rise to hopes that had been dormant for
decades: "Just now I spoke on the phone with President Rouhani of the Islamic
Republic of Iran," said U.S. President Barack Obama, announcing the late
September call that elicited a cautious optimism that was echoed by Iranian
President Hassan Rouhani, who tweeted about the "historic phone conversation."
The call came at the end of Rouhani's first trip to the United Nations, when,
despite speculation about a "chance" encounter and a possible handshake, the two
leaders failed to meet.
For three decades, with memories of the Iranian Revolution and Iran hostage
crisis etched in the minds of many, such an encounter was unthinkable.
But change seemed to start taking hold in June when the support of Iran's
leading reformists helped propel Rouhani into the presidency, sparking
celebrations, with the president-elect quickly signaling a new tone from Tehran.
"There exists an old wound [between the two countries] and it is necessary for
it to close in order for it to heal," Rouhani said.
But many in the U.S. remained wary, convinced that, despite Iran's denials,
Tehran is set on acquiring nuclear weapons.
"You can't sit around and try to speculate are they telling us the truth, are
they going to try to do something internationally and all that?" said Senate
Armed Service Committee's James Inhofe. "No. They want to kill us."
"We know that deception is part of [Tehran's] DNA," U.S. negotiator Wendy
Sherman told members of Congress, sparking outrage in Iran.
Still, negotiations moved forward, leading to an interim deal between Iran and
But, according to Middle East Analyst Jim Phillips of the Heritage Foundation, a
politically conservative Washington-based think tank, getting beyond an interim
deal - and fostering better ties between Iran and the U.S. - is anything but
"These temporary negotiations help both sides in the short run, but in the long
run I'm very pessimistic that a sustainable, acceptable deal can be negotiated
with the regime, unless it sees that [a deal] as a necessary step to ensure its
very survival," he said.
But for those too young to remember the revolution and the hostage crisis, there
is still hope.
Ali, who asked we hide his identity to protect friends and family in Iran, grew
up in Tehran and now studies in the U.S.
"We want to see things normalized so we don't feel a tension within ourselves,
whether things are going to be safe," he said.
A normalization he barely could have dreamed of a year ago that, as remote as it
may prove to be, now has a chance.
About the author: Jeff Seldin 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.
... Payvand News - 12/21/13 ... --