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A priority of Obama Administration policy has been to reduce the perceived threat posed by Iran to a broad range of U.S. interests. Well before Iran’s nuclear issue rose to the forefront of U.S. concerns about Iran in 2003, the United States had seen Iran’s support for regional militant groups, such as Lebanese Hezbollah, as efforts to undermine U.S. interests and allies. To implement U.S. policy, the Obama Administration has orchestrated broad international economic pressure on Iran to try to compel it to verifiably demonstrate to the international community that its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes. That pressure harmed Iran’s economy, created Iranian domestic sentiment for a negotiated nuclear settlement that would produce an easing of international sanctions, and paved the way for the June 2013 election of the relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran.
Rouhani’s election has also improved prospects for an end to the 34 years of U.S.-
Rouhani has not, to date, satisfied the aspirations of those Iranians who see his presidency as an opportunity to achieve an easing of repression and social restrictions. His unexpected election win—a result of a large turnout of reform-