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How the nuclear deal's failings ignited anti-Western sentiment in Iran

In the absence of what Iranian officials see as the lack of full implementation of the nuclear deal, the factors that could reignite anti-US sentiment in Iran appear to be back in place.
EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.

Iranian women walk past an anti-U.S. mural on the wall of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran October 12, 2011. U.S. authorities said on Tuesday that they had broken up a plot by two men linked to Iran's security agencies to kill the Saudi envoy, Adel al-Jubeir. One man was arrested last month while the other was believed to be in Iran. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

Only four years ago, a meeting between an Iranian foreign minister and his US counterpart would have dominated news and stirred criticism by both Iranian and American hawks. Not anymore, thanks to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the result of record-breaking meetings between Mohammad Javad Zarif and John Kerry. Both men today know very well that this breakthrough was itself a true sip from the “poison chalice” for many in Tehran and Washington.

When the nuclear deal was announced on July 14, 2015, there were many in Tehran who poured into the streets to celebrate. There were also those who denounced the whole new Iranian approach, reiterating what late founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini used to say: “Until the US and Israel say, ‘There is no God but Allah,’ we won’t accept it.” It was mainly the hard-liners who were completely against the JCPOA — those on the very right of the political spectrum, well known in Iran as the “Hezbollahis.” They campaigned for their cause among the ranks of the regime who, during the negotiations, were very cautious not to make provocative statements that might reflect a sense of division within the establishment. It was mainly this collective consciousness that was pushing the majority of Iranian elites to build hopes of sanctions relief and economic prosperity, which at that political and diplomatic moment meant that all anti-deal voices should stay calm, no damaging comments were welcome and that pessimists should keep their thoughts to themselves.

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