LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
The possibility of a new relationship between the U.S. and Iran after contentious decades brings back memories. The overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the return of the Ayatollah Khomeini from exile seem a very long time ago. It was 1979. The hostage crisis - 52 American officials and other citizens held in the American Embassy for more than a year. It's a bit more vivid, but a little like old movie footage or dated news clips - no longer real. But it was the beginning of deep mistrust and a relationship which has veered from bad to worse ever since. Now the president and his Secretary of State John Kerry tell us that after long and difficult negotiations, they have a consensus on key parameters, a framework to remove nuclear threats coming from Iran and to ease the economic sanctions coming from this country and its allies. We've seen news clips of Iranians celebrating, parading through the streets of Tehran in open cars, waving and smiling. Here, not so much. We've seen a parade of skeptical politicians not ready to believe. The American people have already told pollsters for ABC News and The Washington Post that they believe the trade-off, nukes for sanctions, is worth it by a wide margin. And, with a dose of probably won't keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons included. This possible agreement does not require the advice and consent of the Senate, but members of Congress, including some Democrats, say they want a vote on this deal. And there's the familiar course of legislators who never approve of anything the president proposes. President Obama presents a stark choice. If diplomacy fails then there is the possibility of another war in the Middle East to eliminate Iran's nuclear threat. Instead of the U.S. and its most powerful allies reaching an agreement, international unity will collapse, the president says, and the path to conflict will widen. Those two things will probably be the basis for long and difficult negotiations with the Congress. Another war in the Middle East is a grim prospect, but maybe more to the point right now - the U.S., the Europeans, Russia and China are all on board with this agreement, and that might matter.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.