By Professor Nader Habibi

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – the Islamic Republic’s ultimate authority – reluctantly blessed the nuclear agreement between Iran and the West that was signed in June 2015 and went into effect in January. Since then, he has gone out of his way to emphasize that his endorsement didn’t mean he wanted to normalize economic ties with the U.S.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, on the other hand, has frequently made clear he wants improved relations with the U.S. and Europe. He believes that repairing Iran’s economy requires active trade with and investment from the West. The latest example of Rouhani’s effort at “détente” with the U.S. is the recent announcement that Iran Air had reached a tentative agreement with Boeing to buy 80 commercial airplanes and lease 29 more in a deal valued at as much as US$25 billion. The Obama administration issued a special permission for Boeing to negotiate with Iran because it did not want the U.S. planemaker to lose the entire Iran market to European rival Airbus.

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