Sworn foes U.S., Iran aim to bury hatchet

- Oren Dorell @OrenDorell

The nuclear deal between world powers and Iran offers the prospect that the United States and the Islamic Republic may embark on a new, less hostile relationsh­ip after 36 years of open enmity.

Tuesday’s landmark accord, which will lift U.S. and interna- tional sanctions on Iran in return for its nuclear restraint, will provide Iran with increased trade and the opportunit­y to integrate its economy and culture more fully with the rest of the world.

In Tehran, thousands of people flooded city streets to celebrate the deal amid hopes for more contact with the West, which many crave.

The agreement marks the first time the two countries have engaged in direct and open diplomacy in more than a generation. And it puts to rest for now a threat by President Obama to resort to force if necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, something Iran always has denied seeking.

The deal could alter a recent history of conflict and lead the two nations toward a more cooperativ­e relationsh­ip, both Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday.

Obama noted that Iran “has been a sworn adversary of the United States for over 35 years.” He urged the Iranian people and their leaders to move away from violence, rigid ideology and threats to eradicate Israel.

“A different path, one of tolerance and peaceful resolution of conflict, leads to more integratio­n into the global economy, more engagement with the internatio­nal community, and the ability

of the Iranian people to prosper and thrive,” Obama said. “This deal offers an opportunit­y to move in a new direction. We should seize it.”

Rouhani said the agreement begins “a new chapter” in Iran’s relations with the world community. If the deal is carried out, “we can gradually eliminate distrust,” he said in Tehran.

It was, ironically, the United States that helped Iran build its first nuclear reactor when the country was ruled by the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who came to power in a CIA-backed coup in 1953, and whose ruthless U.S.-backed reign planted the seeds for the current regime’s vehement anti-American posture.

Many Americans’ first memories of Iran stem from the 444-day Iran hostage crisis, which began during the 1979 Islamic Revolution that overthrew the shah. Students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, which they and the revolution’s leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, referred to as the American “den of spies.”

The two countries almost went to war again in 1983, when Iranbacked Hezbollah militants in Lebanon bombed the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 305 people, including 241 U.S. military personnel. Hostilitie­s flared again in 1988, when the USS Vincennes shot down a civilian Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War, killing 290 passengers.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, in a July video posted on YouTube, said his country is ready to “open new horizons to address common challenges” with the West. He spoke of the common need to confront violent extremism “embodied by the hooded men who are ravaging the cradle of civilizati­on,” referring to the Islamic State, an enemy of both Iran and the U.S. He invited Western nations to “extend their resources to this common battle.”

Yet hard-liners in both Washington and Tehran continue to warn of the dangers of working with the other. House Speaker John Boehner, R- Ohio, said Sunday that to avoid a standoff with the U.S., Iran would not only have to abandon its quest for a nuclear weapon, but also stop sponsoring terrorism around the world. Otherwise, the nuclear deal will wind up “legitimizi­ng this rogue regime,” Boehner told CNN.

In Iran, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei regularly warns that opposition to the United States is a precept of the Iranian revolution. Proof of that came just last week at government-organized rallies in Tehran, where demonstrat­ors burned U.S. and Israeli flags and chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

Khamenei told students in Tehran on Saturday that the U.S. is “the ultimate embodiment of arrogance” and Iran’s enmity toward it will continue. “Get ready to continue combating the arrogant power,” he said.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution­ary Guard Corps issued a statement last week that the destructio­n of U.S.-ally Israel is a top priority of the Muslim world.

Michael Singh, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says Iran’s support for terrorist groups throughout the Middle East has been consistent for decades, and “there’s no reason to expect they’ll change.”

Iran’s aggressive behavior could even spike because the deal will provide more access to cash to support proxies in the region, and Khamenei may seek to placate hard-liners unhappy with a nuclear deal by giving them free rein to continue supporting terrorist groups, Singh said.

 ?? ABEDIN TAHERKENAR­EH, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY ?? Iranians celebrate in Tehran over the prospect ofsanction­s being liftedafte­r Iran and six worldpower­s agreed on a nuclear dealTuesda­y.
ABEDIN TAHERKENAR­EH, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY Iranians celebrate in Tehran over the prospect ofsanction­s being liftedafte­r Iran and six worldpower­s agreed on a nuclear dealTuesda­y.

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