ve1119c.jpg Chris Van Es

A Glimmer of Hope in Iran

No one could have reckoned with Hassan Rowhani’s victory in Iran’s presidential election. But, while the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, as well as the civil war in Syria, may well take on a new dynamic, maintaining realistic expectations must be paramount.

BERLIN – No one could have reckoned with Hassan Rowhani’s victory in Iran’s presidential election. Even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was probably more than a little surprised by Rowhani’s first-round victory, following a campaign that began with eight candidates. As a result, the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, as well as the civil war in Syria, may well take on a new dynamic. But that is how it is in the Middle East: you never know what lies around the corner.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the launch, at the foreign-minister level, of negotiations between Iran and the European triumvirate of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom on Iran’s nuclear program. I was there, representing Germany; so was Rowhani, who led the Iranian delegation.

The talks have continued until today – in an expanded format that includes Germany and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the P5+1) – without any tangible results. Now Rowhani returns to the risky business of Iran’s nuclear program, though this time as President. What can we – and he – expect?

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