September 25th, 2013
11:11 PM ET

Can Rouhani or Obama deliver on any deal?

By Fareed Zakaria

U.S. doubts about Rouhani’s power can be addressed only over time and through Iranian actions. But Iranians probably also have doubts — about Obama’s power. After all, the new Iranian president appears willing to cooperate on the nuclear issue in return for a relaxing of the sanctions crippling his country. But can Obama provide any such relief?

Iran has dozens of layers of sanctions arrayed against it. Some are based on U.N. Security Council resolutions, others are decisions by the European Union, others are acts of Congress and still others are executive orders by the U.S. president. Obama can unilaterally lift only the last, which are the least burdensome. The most onerous by far are the sanctions passed through acts of Congress, and those will be the most difficult to lift.

Read the full Washington Post column

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Topics: Iran

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Joseph McCarthy

    The politics of hunger needs to end once and for all. This heinous policy of trying to starve another country into submission should in fact be considered nothing less than a crime against humanity itself. Yes, the U.S. and Iran can and should come together and discuss their differences. Not to do so would be sheer stupidity at it's very worst!

    September 26, 2013 at 7:35 am | Reply
  2. ✠RZ✠

    Answer. Might just as well drone me now! Question: What did Rouhani say when he was told they were sending Kerry instead.

    September 26, 2013 at 8:33 am | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    There was a sense of optimism at the UN General Assembly a few days ago, that Obama and Rouhani might meet briefly and shake hands, a symbolic gesture of détente. It looks as if this hopefulness was just a flash in the pan.
    The speeches of the two leaders were promising. Even if Rouhani signaled a moderate break with Ahmadinejad's past fundamentalist leadership, there's a saying: "One sparrow doesn't make a summer." Too complex are the issues that need to be dealt with, before the frosty relationship between the US and Iran warm up. Neither Rouhani and Obama alone can make it happen.
    For more than two decades whenever Iran's supreme leader Khamenei feels overshadowed by a moderate or reform-minded president, he intervenes, mostly on behalf of the hard-liners. In the past he had come into conflict with several of Rouhani's predecessors.
    Although Khamenei and Rouhani have a long-standing political relationship and the supreme leader has backed Rouhani's direction and policies, it's still unclear how far they will go, whether the hawkish Republican Guard is willing to change their doctrine.
    In the Congress Obama faces challenges from pro-Israel and pro-Saudi Arabia lobbyists. Republicans will block any attempt for a rapprochement with Iran, as long as there's no regime change there.
    America's key allies – Israel and Saudi Arabia – in the region want Iran to give up its nuclear programme. Israel portrays Rouhani as "a wolf in sheep's clothing." Saudi Arabia competes with Iran over regional hegemony.

    September 26, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply
    • vonrock

      Rouhani turned down obama and has since gone on to talk with other world leaders, supreme leaders don't give free reins to anyone.

      September 26, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Reply
  4. sdfg2341234

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    September 26, 2013 at 11:21 am | Report abuse | Reply

    September 26, 2013 at 11:28 am | Reply
  5. acrabahyiouspe

    There should be no easing of sanctions now. In the first step, the U.S. should respond in kind to Iran's sweet words.

    September 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Reply
    • acrabahyiouspe

      In the second step, there should be confidence-building measures on both sides. Some sanctions can be temporarily halted, with a clear date when they would automatically resume if Iran's dismantling of it's program to acquire nuclear weapons capability cannot be verified. On Iran's part, they should freeze nuclear enrichment and make preparations to dismantle their program to obtain nuclear weapons capability. As a part of the confidence-building measure from their side to the U.S., they should demonstrate that they can live peacefully with other cultures, by releasing American past. or Sa. eed Abe. dini, who is in ja. il and tort. ured for the "cri. me" of choosing a rel. igion other than Is. lam.

      September 26, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Reply
    • acrabahyiouspe

      Finally, once Iran has dismantled its program to obtain nuclear weapons capability, all sanctions can be lifted.

      September 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  6. acrabahyiouspe

    How very interesting! Fareed Zakaria is censoring Sa. eed Abe. dini, the name of the pastor being tortured in Iran for the "crime" of leaving Islam.

    Does this mean that Zakaria is an Islamist? It certainly looks like he does not support freedom of religion. I hope people will notice.

    September 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Reply
    • acrabahyiouspe

      And if this message is deleted, I vow to spread it on Facebook and Twitter.

      September 26, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  7. NO

    NO. Because all the Towel Head is saying is that he wants the US to get rid of all their nukes. Not gonna happen. Get rid of your nukes or else Towel Head.

    September 26, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Posted like a true dimwitted Tea Partier. Thank you, NO!

      September 26, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  8. sand

    death to the jews kill there demon children.

    September 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Reply

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