Our Views: A long shot in Tehran

If just about everyone realizes that it’s a long shot, nevertheless we hope the United States government will try to use the election of a new president in Iran to ease tensions.

The new president, Hasan Rowhani, won a big endorsement at the polls, avoiding a runoff and squashing candidates considered more hard-line on domestic and foreign issues. Even in a political system overseen by aging absolutist clerics, that vote commands some respect, and may give Rowhani an opportunity to engage the United Nations and the West with some opening for compromise.

But in international affairs, as in personal ones, there is an admonishment: Pride goeth before a fall.

Rowhani’s people are manifestly unhappy with the economic effects of international sanctions and with repression on the streets by ultra-Islamist zealots. However, Rowhani and probably most of those who voted for him don’t want progress at the expense of abandoning the nuclear power program that has become a symbol of national pride.

Steering Iran toward accommodation with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s requirements and away from a potential nuclear weapons project may be too difficult a diplomatic task for anyone. Certainly, the United States and others should not abandon any sanctions before there are tangible proofs of good faith from Tehran.

Still, talks are worth a try. We hope they bear fruit.