‘The most promising news’: Midwest Iranians celebrate nuclear deal

FARGO -- Congress may be split on the Iran nuclear deal announced last week, but local Iranians are not. "For me, that's the most promising news for the last decade," North Dakota State University graduate student Asghar Rezaei said of the agreem...

Ghodrat Karami, originally of Iran, sits in his office Thursday at North Dakota State University, Fargo, where he is a professor of mechanical engineering. Michael Vosburg/Forum News Service

FARGO - Congress may be split on the Iran nuclear deal announced last week, but local Iranians are not.

“For me, that’s the most promising news for the last decade,” North Dakota State University graduate student Asghar Rezaei said of the agreement that lifts economic sanctions in exchange for Iran reining in its nuclear program.
After years of inflation and unemployment, thousands sang and danced in Iran’s streets Tuesday night.
The celebration was quieter in Fargo-Moorhead, where there are just 45 Iranian-born residents, according to the most recent census, though others say that figure is closer to 80.
Nassibeh Hosseini found out with her husband, Hesam Sarvghad-Moghaddam, and while they weren’t surprised, as negotiations lasted more than two years, they were overjoyed.
“Yayyyy...Finally the comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program was signed!!” Hosseini, 31, posted on her Facebook page.
She and her husband, also 31, smiled as they talked about the celebrations back home.
“This maybe meant for them just peace, no war,” said Hosseini, who recently graduated from NDSU’s Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering.

“This means nobody is going to be killed, our families are going to be safe,” said Sarvghad-Moghaddam, who is defending his Ph.D. in the same program next month. “I hope the people of the United States can see this aspect of the agreement.”
Congress now has 60 days to review the accord, a process that will be turbulent thanks to Republicans who’ve vowed to stop its advance. But their success is unlikely, given President Barack Obama’s power to veto, and local Iranians are already looking ahead to better times.
In recent years, punishing sanctions have shuttered factories, bankrupted companies and prevented some Iranians from getting proper medicine.
“These are the kind of things that every day you can see over there,” said Ghodrat Karami, 61, an NDSU professor of mechanical engineering from Shiraz.
Some of Karami’s friends have lost their jobs, and whenever he visited home, he saw the effects of high inflation.
“Their standard of life dropped to the lowest level since the Industrial Revolution,” he said.
Kambiz Farahmand, a professor of industrial engineering at NDSU from Tehran, said most products have remained available - if you can afford them.
“You could buy a loaf of bread for 20 cents three years ago. Now, you have to buy the same loaf of bread for $1.50,” Farahmand, 56, said. “It’s not putting a lot of pressure on government, not putting a lot of pressure on the people that are affiliated with government and the upper class. It’s really hurting the middle class and the lower class.”
Beyond the economy, many local Iranians hope the deal is a sign of an improved relationship. They dream of a U.S. Consulate in Iran, where they could apply for visas in their own country, and of the freedom to travel back and forth.
Rezaei, 44, has been in the United States for five years and cannot go home.
“If you leave the country, you have to apply again, and there is no guarantee they give you a visa for the second time,” he said.
Hosseini and Sarvghad-Moghaddam are optimistic that the end of negotiations will mark the beginning of new era, one founded on nonviolent diplomacy. The professor echoed that.
The deal opens “a window for solving the problems of the world through peaceful means, through negotiations, through understanding each other, through discussions,” Karami said. “This was really important, not just for the sake of Iran, but for the sake of the world.”

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