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Stay the Course With Rouhani

The incumbent Hassan Rouhani has won a landslide victory in Iran’s presidential election, meaning that it is he who will be dealing with an antagonistic US President Donald Trump. But if Trump makes good on his vow to withdraw the US from the international nuclear deal with Iran, Rouhani's moderate forces will be in serious trouble.

LONDON – Hassan Rouhani has won re-election as Iran’s president in a landslide, meaning that it is he who will be dealing with an antagonistic US President Donald Trump. What will their relationship mean for the 2015 international agreement that has, for now, frozen Iran’s nuclear ambitions?

The Iranian nuclear deal was the culmination of a decades-long pas de deux between the United States and post-revolutionary Iran – a push and pull, in which every step forward was seemingly followed by a step back. During US President Jimmy Carter’s administration, when the Shah fell and the US embassy staff was held hostage for more than a year, the two sides were hopelessly divided.

Under US President Ronald Reagan and his vice president and successor, George H. W. Bush, the situation was complicated further by the Iran-Contra scandal, in which senior Reagan administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran between 1985 and 1987, despite an arms embargo. As a result, when the relatively moderate President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani took power in August 1989, ended Iran’s war with Iraq, and put out feelers to the US, Bush’s hands were tied.

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