Contact: Jamal Abdi
Email: [email protected]
We are strongly encouraged by reports that Apple may be looking to enter Iran in the near future. We commend everyone who is working to build bridges to a brighter future between Americans and Iranians, whether through diplomatic engagement, people to people exchanges, or economic investment.As Iranian Americans, the stakes couldn’t be clearer for us. Not long ago, a young Iranian-American woman shopping in Alpharetta, GA was told she could not purchase any Apple products because of U.S. economic sanctions. This was an egregious but not unusual story for our community. The fact that Apple is now considering selling its products directly to Iran suggests how far the United States and Iran have come in negotiations and how this has positively impacted people on all sides, including the Iranian-American community.This past February, the Obama Administration took an important step when it issued General License D-1, which permits the export of personal communications technologies and software, including iMacs and iPhones. This was a commendable step by the Administration that was strongly supported for years by NIAC and other human rights and diaspora organizations.Ending Iran’s economic isolation, and enabling relationships with Iran’s innovators, will be mutually beneficial for everyone involved. Iran’s population is young, highly educated, and deeply interested connecting with the global community. Where the standoff between the U.S. and Iran has been a negative sum exercise that has put us on a path to war, a diplomatic solution can be the beginning of a positive sum relationship towards a brighter future. Thirty-five years of sanctions and escalation have done nothing to improve human rights for Iranians. Diplomacy, and the prospect of lifting sanctions and encouraging trade, can help ensure Iranians are able to improve their human rights situation.These new hopes and opportunities only add to the already high stakes of the ongoing nuclear negotiations. With just few weeks remaining in the talks, all parties need to boldly seize the moment to secure a nuclear deal, de-escalate tensions, and start to steer the relationship in a new direction. If and when there is a deal, it will be imperative for both sides to fully live up to their end of the bargain. For Iran, that will mean taking verifiable actions to demonstrate that its nuclear program is limited to exclusively peaceful purposes. For the U.S. and others, it will mean implementing relief from sanctions in a sufficiently robust manner so that ordinary people feel the positive effects.There will be many obstacles and hard work ahead, including the U.S. embargo on Iran that may remain in place even with a deal. Those on both sides working towards positive relations will have our work cut out for us. But the reports of Apple and others taking a serious look at opportunities with Iran are a positive sign that bolder steps towards a brighter future are within reach.