Iran's Post-Deal Future
By Robin Wright
The long slog of diplomacy with Iran—a pariah nation since its 1979 revolution—was always about more than the bomb. It was about the return of the world’s eighteenth-largest country—and its vast military, population, and consumer base—at a time when the Middle East is crumbling. A nuclear deal could alter the regional dynamics. The chaos in the Middle East and the rise of the Islamic State, which has come within twenty-five miles of Iran’s borders, have redefined the dangers to Iran, as well as its priorities. During the nuclear talks in Vienna, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, released a YouTube message to the West, in English, about how a deal could “pen new horizons to address important, common challenges.” Even Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, amid his customary anti-American bombast, offered a tantalizing remark. “If the other side gives up its usual diversionary tactics,” he told a group of poets, in April, “this will become an experience for us that, very well, we can negotiate with them on other issues.” Throughout the spring, Tehran was abuzz over the prospect of coöperation with the United States. During the final weeks of negotiations, I spoke to Zarif in Tehran about Khamenei’s statement and how a deal might impact other conflicts in the world’s most volatile region.