Iranians in California Skeptical of Nuclear Deal

Iran protest (Jennifer Smith / Flickr / CC)
Jennifer Smith / Flickr / CC

Iranians living in California are deeply skeptical of the emerging nuclear deal announced last week by the Obama administration. Many fled Iran for Southern California during and after the 1979 revolution–some after suffering human rights abuses, and many leaving property and relatives behind in uncertain circumstances.

Reuters reported last week:

Many members of the Los Angeles-area Iranian community, the largest in the United States, are skeptical about a preliminary nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, even though a pact could end decades of international isolation for their homeland.

The prevailing sentiment in part reflects the history of the Southern California’s Iranian community, made up of those in the earliest wave of migration after Iran’s 1979 revolution. Many are still distrustful of the Iranian government.

A rollback of U.S. sanctions, which have contributed to Iran’s skyrocketing inflation and inability to obtain Western medical supplies, will do little to improve the lives of ordinary people, many expatriates say. Instead, they see the government as the only beneficiary of any economic boost that might follow the lifting of sanctions, a reward for what they say is the Iranian leadership’s decades of bad behavior.

Iranian Jews in particular are worried about the effect of the nuclear deal on Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that the nuclear framework would enable Iran to develop a nuclear weapon over time, and would therefore be a direct threat to Israel. Reuters notes:

The Iranian Jewish community in particular has developed allegiance toward Israel. The majority of Iranian Jews in Los Angeles oppose the proposed deal, which has been criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A sense of anger that U.S. President Barack Obama has turned his back on Israel is shared among Iranians who emigrated as adults as well as those who left as babies.

Reuters notes that some Iranians remain hopeful that the nuclear deal could lead to political change in Iran, eventually. However, the Obama administration has resisted pressuring Iran for any kind of political reform as part of the deal.