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The nuclear deal reached in July by Iran and its international interlocutors marks an obvious turning point in the Islamic Republic's relations with the outside world, particularly with the United States. But why has it taken so much longer for the U.S. to come to terms with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's revolution in Iran than it did with Mao Zedong's revolution in China?The Bush administration's moralistic foreign policy merely reinforced America's stance since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.Then, in February 2005, just as the hard-line Ahmadinejad was about to begin his first term as president, Bush formally rejected a nuclear deal that had been painstakingly negotiated by Rouhani (then Khamenei's representative in Iran's Supreme National Security Council) and signed in late 2004 by France, Germany and the United Kingdom.This made Ahmadinejad's insistence on Iran's nuclear "rights" popular with the Iranian masses and the middle class alike.Despite popular disenchantment with the Ahmadinejad era, that sentiment still prevails in Iran. But the nuclear accord reached last month is the product of a different political context: President Barack Obama was eager to make a deal with Iran part of his legacy, and this time, Rouhani, as president, was able to negotiate with the full backing of Khamenei, with whom (unlike Khatami) he has worked closely.
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