In a surprise, moderate Hassan Rowhani was elected President of Iran on Friday, June 14. Known to be politically astute, he is a pragmatist and may provide the opening for a diplomatic solution on Iran’s nuclear program. Only time will tell if Rowhani will be able to work with the Supreme Leader Khamenei and provide lasting change regarding Iran’s isolation from the international community. For the West’s part, the P5+1 should be ready with a new, far reaching proposal to test the intentions of the new Iranian leadership. Neither the West nor Iran should let an opportunity for results pass by because of a failure of nerve on either side of the negotiating table.
Rowhani won’t take office until August. His cabinet must be endorsed by all factions within Iran’s government, including the Supreme Leader. This means the P5+1 has all summer to figure out how best to approach the new regime and to devise a new proposal that includes some sanctions relief. Let’s hope that in the fall each side can get down to business and produce concrete results.