Fifty years ago to this very day, President Kennedy signed into law the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Today, we no longer live in a bipolar world, the political actors have changed, but the threat from nuclear weapons remains strong. Last week President Hassan Rouhani of Iran spoke to President Obama by phone - the first presidential conversation between the two countries since 1979. This is a historic opportunity which must be seized upon positively by the West.
Since President Rouhani came to power, he's been the antipode to his infamous predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rouhani has taken unprecedented steps to re-engage with the international community after years of his country's needless isolationism. He's written conciliatory Op-Ed pieces in the Washington Post and intriguingly is even an active tweeter, you can follow him here. He even went as far to reply to Twitter's co-founder Jack Dorsey who tweeted the President to ask if the Iranian people would have access to the social media platform. He replied stating that the Iranian people will eventually have access to twitter, a possible sign that internet censorship will be lifted in the nation.
Indeed, internally Iran is entering a period of political transition. Unlike previous years where the Parliament was dogmatically anti-American, 230 Iranian Parliamentarians out of 290 endorsed Rouhani's opening move towards positive interaction with the West. A sure sign that the tide is changing under Rouhani's guidance. This is not to say though that the "Death to America" chants will not occur, they still do. But, those preachers filled with hatred and animosity are now becoming the minority. Moderates are slowly becoming more influential within the polity of Iran.
But with all positive steps forward, conservative hawks are quick to pounce on this as just another smoke-screen. They argue that this is simply just the latest ploy providing the allusion of diplomacy, where in fact the Iranian government is still feverishly pushing towards a nuclear weapon. The most vocal critic, Israeli's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at the General Assembly last week, that Rouhani is "a wolf in sheep's clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community."
Of course, Iran is not without fault, there have been a catalogue of violations but to try and thwart the possibility of diplomatic progress is senseless. Ostensibly, Netanyahu is preaching the party line, actually this latest range of attacks against Iran and a decision to meet with a host of European leaders next week is a sign of his waning influence on discussions. The White House should pay no attention to Bibi who is simply crying wolf. It's time for the White House to gradually lift the economic sanctions for Iran's adherence to continued talks to precipitate this gradual thaw in relations.