NORMAN — Congress and the American people have many reasons to cheer the progress of U.S. negotiations with Iran. Both nations have much to gain from a successful outcome and improved relations.
The conflicts threatening Iraq and tensions with Russia underscore the value of pursuing positive relations with Iran. The possibility of a U.S.-Iranian alliance would benefit the whole Middle East. Is this possible?
Since the inauguration last summer of new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran has displayed a totally new openness to improved relations with the U.S. Iranians elected Rouhani because they were frustrated by the confrontational strutting of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose belligerent rhetoric undermined Iranian credibility, emboldened U.S. hawks and made Israel nervous.
President Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Javad Zarif strongly desire increased trade and tourism based on respect and mutual benefit. They have both staked their future on improved relations with western nations.
In January, the U.S. and Iran agreed to a six-month period of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. A prerequisite was Iranian compliance with several pre-conditions, which Iran is meeting. Iran agreed to increased access for inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency to sensitive sites, and this was done.
The IAEA has increased the numbers of inspection teams in Iran and numbers of inspectors on each team. Iran is providing information about its uranium enrichment program, which it has always avowed is purely for energy and medical purposes. Iran has also reduced its uranium enrichment capabilities, confirmed by the IAEA.
The six-month period of negotiations will conclude in mid-July, at which time an agreement or treaty may be announced, or the negotiations period may be extended. Either way, it is good news for all sides that Iran and the US are on the road to better relations.