The Herald Bulletin

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November 27, 2013

Former hostages react to Iran's nuclear deal

McLEAN, Va. — To some of the Americans subjected to mock executions and other torment during more than a year as hostages in Iran more than 30 years ago, it seems like a mistake to trust the regime in Tehran to keep its promises in a nuclear deal brokered by the U.S. and other world powers.

The prolonged hostage crisis that began in 1979 gnawed at American emotions and touched off decades of animosity between the U.S. and a nation that had once been an ally. The latest deal has been touted as a trust-building endeavor, though some who endured captivity are skeptical.

"It's kind of like Jimmy Carter all over again," said Clair Cortland Barnes, now retired and living in Leland, N.C., after a career at the CIA and elsewhere. He sees the negotiations now as no more effective than they were for the Carter administration, when he and others languished.

Retired Air Force Col. Thomas E. Schaefer, 83, called the deal "foolishness."

"My personal view is, I never found an Iranian leader I can trust," he said. "I don't think today it's any different from when I was there. None of them, I think, can be trusted. Why make an agreement with people you can't trust?"

Schaefer was a military attache in Iran who was among those held hostage. He now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife of more than 60 years, Anita, who also takes a dim view of the agreement: "We are probably not very Christian-like when it comes to all this," she said.

The weekend agreement between Iran and six world powers — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — is to temporarily halt parts of Tehran's disputed nuclear program and allow for more intrusive international monitoring of Iran's facilities. In exchange, Iran gains some modest relief from stiff economic sanctions and a pledge from Obama that no new penalties will be levied during the six months.

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