Sheriff Mirkarimi Says Nuclear Agreement With Iran Will Impact Bay Area Persian Community

San Francisco’s Iranian-American sheriff said today he is hopeful that an internationally brokered agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear program will be an important step toward mending Iran’s relationship with the West.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, whose father was born in Tehran, reacted positively to the accord reached in Geneva this weekend, in which Iranian officials agreed to temporarily halt parts of its nuclear energy development program in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions imposed by Western nations.

“I want to believe that this pact is a positive step toward a thawing of the ‘cold war’ between Iran and the West,” Mirkarimi said by phone today.

The former San Francisco Supervisor, who helped organize the city’s first official Persian New Year or Nowrooz celebration in 2005, said the agreement will likely impact the Persian community in the Bay Area and around the state.

“This really hits home, because California is home to the largest population of Iranian-Americans in the country,” Mirkarimi said.

The sheriff, who said he is one of the highest elected officials of Iranian descent in the country, said the relationship between Iran and the U.S. has been fraught with “historical exasperation,” and that any move toward diplomatic contact between the two nations will likely be good for the world.

“There is reason for mistrust, but we still need to pursue peace,” Mirkarimi said.

President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to visit the Bay Area on Monday, said in a statement from the White House that the agreement is an “important first step at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”

Under the agreement, Iran has pledged to halt certain levels of plutonium enrichment for at least six months, and allow international inspectors at its nuclear facilities, the President said.

In exchange, the U.S. and its allies have agreed to provide Iran with “modest relief” from existing economic sanctions and “refrain from imposing new sanctions,” he said.

According to the President, the agreement has “cut off Iran’s most important paths to a bomb.”

Chris Cooney, Bay City News

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