Could we actually have peace with Iran?

On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iran's Foreign Minister, for the first substantive talks in a generation. Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been strong since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and no secretary of state has met with an Iranian counterpart since 2007. And, for almost three decades, relations have been strained further by economic sanctions imposed on Iran over their nuclear program.

Thursday's meeting followed recent statements by Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, who pledged to resolve his nation's nuclear standoff with the West. Those statements, and Thursday's meeting, point to a possible end to ongoing Western hostility towards Iran. Secretary Kerry said that the talks with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif were “very constructive,” but said more meetings would be needed to “find a way to answer the questions that people have about Iran's nuclear program.”

Iranian President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif both stressed that Iran has no intention of developing a nuclear weapon, and only wants the right to develop nuclear energy for “peaceful, civilian uses.” However, the United States and Israel still question Iran's motives. After the meeting, Secretary Kerry told reporters, “Needless to say, one meeting and a change in tone, which was welcome, doesn't answer those questions yet, and there is a lot of work left to be done.”

But, the meeting marks the first real progress towards peace with Iran in three decades. Once again, discussion, diplomacy, and economic sanctions are proving to be more effective than military threats. The people of Iran are suffering under those sanctions, and it would be monumental for them – and for the world – if we were finally able to resolve these long-standing international tensions.

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