President Obama’s historic phone call to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was the first time leaders from the two countries have directly communicated since 1979. Talking to NPR, Carnegie’s Karim Sadjadpour describe it as “the first step in what could be a very long journey.” While the United States has long taken the position that Iran is entitled to a civilian nuclear energy program, Sadjadpour explained, and Iran has long stated it is opposed to nuclear weapons for religious and moral reasons, the big question will be whether there will be a half-way meeting point between the two sides.

Although Rouhani is opposed to a lot of his ideological counterparts in Tehran and is a more pragmatic figure, Sadjapour explained, the new president’s goal is to preserve the longevity of the Islamic Republic and sustain the revolution by putting Iran’s economic interest before its ideological ones. Looking at the world through Obama's eyes, while the rest of the Middle East is really unraveling, “Iran presents Obama an opportunity to possibly leave a tangible, positive diplomatic legacy,” Sadjapour said.

This interview was originally broadcast by NPR.