An Opening for Diplomacy with Iran

By any measure, this was a remarkable week in foreign affairs. U.S President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani expressed a willingness to engage in diplomacy at the UN General Assembly. Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif met on Thursday – the highest level meeting between the US and Iran since 1979.

Diplomacy can be slow, and it takes patience. Experts believe that now there is a narrow window for a deal to peacefully and verifiably remove any possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon. Rouhani stated that Iran wants such a deal to happen in the next three to six months; Secretary of State Kerry told CBS that “It’s possible to have a deal sooner than that depending on how forthcoming and clear Iran is prepared to be.”

Ploughshares Fund experts and our partner grantees have been heavily relied upon by media this week to help interpret these exciting developments. In fact, several of our grantees were listed as key sources on Iran by the Economist Magazine in a round-up of "What to Read on Iran."  

Check out Joel Rubin on PRI's The World. 

Nothing can be taken for granted of course. Relations between Iran and the US are historically thorny. Rouhani claims to have authority to negotiate, but will he be able to keep internal Iranian politics from derailing the process? Obama will need to cooperate with Congress to remove sanctions. But opportunities like we saw this week don't come around every day. It's important for both sides to sincerely test if a "win-win" deal is possible. 

Public support will be critical. Any deal will need to have the backing of Congress and the approval of the American people. If you haven’t yet, sign and share the letter to world leaders from comedians Maz Jobrani and Elon Gold. It’s more important than ever that our leaders know we want them to give peace a dance. 

UPDATE; Just this afternoon, President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani shared a historic phone call; the first time an American president and an Iranian leader have spoken directly since the Carter administration. The call was followed by a direct Twitter exchange between the two leaders.

Photo by the U.S. Department of State