/ 24 November 2013

Americans cautiously cheer news of nuclear deal with Tehran

US Secretary of State John Kerry.
US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Iranian-Americans reacted with cautious cheer and some skepticism to a breakthrough agreement by Iran and six world powers to curb Tehran's nuclear program.

"Diplomacy has delivered the US and Iran from the brink of a disastrous war and placed the two countries at the beginning of a brighter, more sustainable path forward," Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, said in a statement after the deal was reached on early Sunday in Geneva.

As part of the agreement aimed at capping Iran's nuclear program, Iran will get access to $4.2 billion in foreign exchange.

"Iranian Americans, who overwhelmingly oppose war and broad economic sanctions, and who have suffered under the standoff between the two countries, want to see a future in which the US enjoys positive relations with an Iran that truly represents its people. Today, that future appears more possible than ever," Parsi said in the statement.

In Santa Monica, California, the owner of Tehran Market, an Iranian grocery, reacted with guarded optimism to news of the interim agreement.

"I think it will go further," said Mehri Monfared. "The people in Iran are waiting to solve this matter."

Pretty exciting
In New York, Sarit Askahn, 60, an Iranian-American dentist who was having dinner late on Saturday at a restaurant in Manhattan, said he "just heard the news and it was pretty exciting news, actually. The developments in the past months have been in the positive trend."

The deal marked a first step toward resolving a dangerous standoff, with relations warming after Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, replaced bellicose nationalist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iranian president earlier this year.

"This president is more pragmatic," said Sed Nahid, a restaurant owner in Marina del Rey, California.

While he said he hoped a more permanent peaceful accord could be reached, he doubted the newly clinched interim agreement would hold.

"How many years we play mouse and cat game?" Nahid said.

Others felt the new Iranian leadership would do everything in its power to keep the agreement intact in order to lift the crippling sanctions over Iran's nuclear program.

Peaceful energy project
The West fears that Iran has been seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability. The Islamic Republic denies that, saying its nuclear program is a peaceful energy project.

"I believe they are being honest because they have to make it … they have no different way," said Mike Zarrabikia, who immigrated to the United States from Tehran 12 years ago and owns Negreen Persian Grill in Summit, New Jersey.

"The economy is very important for all of the country. … The people have a very bad situation right now," Zarrabikia said.

Hossein Daei, owner of a Persian restaurant in Los Angeles' heavily Iranian Westwood district, said the deal "is going to be good for the people, because they're going to release money and remove the sanctions.

"They're really suffering over there," he said. "It's not only an economic problem, it's a humanitarian problem. This thing is definitely going to make the government safer." – Reuters