The question of Iran-US relations

Masoud Kheirabadi to speak on tension, diplomacy between countries

Portland State’s Middle East Studies Center will continue its esteemed Lunch and Learn series on Thursday, May 3, focusing on diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States. The informal event will be held in East Hall, room 109, at noon, and is free to the public. Guests are asked to RSVP on the MESC webpage. Tea and coffee will be provided, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch.

Speaking at the upcoming lecture, entitled “U.S.-Iran Relations: To Bomb or Not to Bomb,” will be Professor Masoud Kheirabadi, an Iranian-American who currently teaches in PSU’s geography, international studies and sociology departments. His credentials include teaching positions at University of Oregon, Lewis and Clark College and Marylhurst University.

This upcoming lecture will be addressing a topic that has recently gained a lot of attention: U.S.-Iran relations.

Despite being allies during the Cold War, Iran and the U.S. experienced decades of conflict, including the hostage crisis of 1979, that severed ties between them. Today, the nations continue to lack formal diplomatic relations. In 2009, the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency found that Iran had the knowledge to properly create nuclear weapons despite a statement from the Iranian government that it had no desire to do so. This discovery has kept the U.S. on its toes, as it has been speculated that Israel could be a possible target in the event that an actual weapon is created.

“Iran’s current technological and economic aspirations and geopolitical ambitions do not necessarily coincide with those of the United States in the region,” Kheirabadi said. “This has put the two governments in constant conflict, to the extent that each side sees the other as her arch-enemy which needs to be confronted.”

With these rising concerns and the failure to ease U.S. tension during the recent nuclear talks in Istanbul, the question remains if a stable relationship between the two nations is possible. Kheirabadi will discuss this issue and examine possible outcomes in the case of military confrontation in the future.

“[The] Persian Gulf contains most of world’s oil resources, which is the life-blood of the industrial world, and Iran is one of the top world oil producers,” Kheirabadi said. “So any disruptions in supply of these vital energy resources from the Gulf (due to military conflicts) could significantly raise the oil prices and make it nearly inaccessible for average oil consumers, including many in the United States,” he added.

In order to “promote knowledge of the Middle East,” the MESC holds monthly Lunch and Learn lectures. Past topics have included the Egyptian Revolution, the United Nations vote on official Palestinian statehood and humanitarianism in Libya.

“It provides the community with an opportunity to engage in thoughtful discussion about current events in the region,” said MESC Outreach Coordinator Elisheva Cohen. “Other institutions I had studied at held brown bag events like this and I always enjoyed attending them…After speaking it over with my colleagues here at the center, we decided to try it out, and, lo and behold, they have been very successful.”

According to Cohen, the series provides a forum for the community to ask questions and share opinions as well as increase international awareness through a shared interest in the Middle East.

International studies freshman Sofia Ellis-Curry is planning to focus her area of study on the Middle East and the Arabic language and went to her first Lunch and Learn in September 2011. She became hooked on the series immediately and now is a regular attendee.

“Looking back, it’s pretty impressive that the center was holding discussions on democracy in Syria all the way back in September, when that issue wasn’t even raised in mainstream media until mid-March,” Ellis-Curry said. “I think it speaks to the MESC’s dedication and desire to take the time to look for speakers and issues that haven’t been covered before.”

“To have an event series that combines important academic topics with easy and comfortable discussion is a rarity,” Ellis-Curry said. “This series is key in bringing people together who share a similar curiosity and interest about things happening outside of the U.S. PSU has so many great resources available to students and the MESC is definitely one of them…Getting involved at the MESC has been one of the best decisions I’ve made this year.”

For more information or to RSVP to the event, visit


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