Iran Softens

DATELINE: Washington, D. C.

After weeks of signaling that it would not be seeking Congressional approval for a nuclear deal that would leave Iran within six months of building a bomb, new developments indicate the Obama Administration might now do an about-face and present the agreement not only to the U.S. Congress but to Israel’s Knesset.

This turnabout comes as Iran, in a bid to soften its image, has sentenced one of its female citizens, 25 year old Ghoncheh Ghavami, to only one year in jail for attempting to attend a men’s volleyball game. Ghavami faced a much longer prison term for the crime of being in the same stadium as men in shorts. The “slap on the wrist” for Ghavami, in the view of the U.S. administration, was intended to lend support to the message now being broadcast by American negotiators that Iran is finally under responsible leadership, and capable of joining the nuclear community.

Washington also views as no coincidence the suspended sentence, accompanied by a few lashes, meted out a few weeks ago to six young Iranians who made a video of themselves dancing to a recording of the song “Happy” by the American pop star, Pharrell Williams. The Iranians are apparently determined to help the Administration send a strong positive signal by suddenly treating mixed dancing, usually a felony, as a mere misdemeanor, with whipping instead of imprisonment deemed sufficient to deter boys and girls from rocking out together

An Administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that Iran’s new charm initiative would actually influence the substance of any deal, and insisted that the U.S. would closely monitor that Iran’s nuclear enrichment program be used only for peaceful purposes once the deal was concluded. “Look, nobody can pull the wool over our eyes when it comes to the Middle East,” said the unidentified official. “Didn’t we scare the living daylights out of Syria by sending inspectors once the entire world agreed that chemical weapons were being employed. And haven’t we begun to arm and train the hundred or so Shiite soldiers that have not deserted the Iraqi army, once we discovered that ISIS had seized a few oil fields?”

Meanwhile, the White House expects that it might still have to do some political arm-twisting before lawmakers in both the U.S. and Israel will get past the 8-to-21 year sentences Iran imposed a few months ago on a group of Facebook administrators as being the “old” Iran, and share its confidence that the “new” Iran, as demonstrated by the Ghavami and “Happy” cases, would go easy on a country that goes nuts over co-ed beach volleyball and encourages hand-holding while dancing the Hora.

The Administration also hopes that politicians will see the vast economic potential now that millions of Iranians will be encouraged to download American and Israeli music on i-tunes.

About the Author
Bennett M. Epstein is a criminal lawyer in New York