The diplomatic thaw between Iran and the West is a significant step forward after years of tensions. As Carnegie’s Karim Sadjadpour explains, the question, however, is whether Iran wants a rapprochement with the United States and if Tehran will fundamentally change its foreign and domestic policy. Speaking to the Agenda with Steve Paikin, Sadjadpour argued that Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is a pragmatic politician and the team around him has a much more sophisticated world view than Ahmadinejad’s. They recognize that in order for Iran to fulfill its true potential and improve the state of the domestic economy, it can’t have an adversarial policy towards the outside world.

Sadjadpour explained that one of the fundamental challenges facing the Iranian regime is reconciling their state ideology, which has been based on resistance against America and a rejection of Israel’s existence. He contended that it will be very difficult for the regime to dilute those pillars which have been fundamental sources of identity for the system. Sadjadpour described the likelihood of Iran entirely giving up its nuclear program as slim to none and underlined that the big question is whether there is a middle ground between the U.S. Congress and the Supreme Leader, where Iran would make significant nuclear compromises in exchange for sanctions relief.