Originally published by Foreign Policy, November 21, 2014
by Nancy Gallagher
For the first time in more than a decade, the United States and Iran are both pushing hard to resolve their long-standing disagreements about Tehran’s nuclear program. Making that investment in nuclear diplomacy pay off requires bold leadership — and an understanding of public opinion in both countries.
Shortly after President Hassan Rouhani took office, negotiators from Iran and six world powers (the P5+1) agreed on the elements of a solution “to ensure Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful,” as the Joint Plan of Action states. But as the Nov. 24 deadline for reaching a comprehensive deal approaches, large gaps remain between the parties on the scope, timing, and duration of an agreement. We can’t ignore the role of public opinion in bridging those gaps: Both President Barack Obama and Rouhani will be more likely to take political risks to reach an agreement if they think that the terms would have broad public support.
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