How MIT swag helped win an Iranian nukes deal

Two key players in the talks bonded over their time at the university.

Delegates from Iran and a group of six nations, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, second from left, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, left, pose for a photos after agreeing to an accord to significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability, in Vienna, July 14, 2015.
Delegates from Iran and a group of six nations, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, second from left, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, left, pose for a photos after agreeing to an accord to significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability, in Vienna, July 14, 2015. –Carlos Barria/Pool via The New York Times

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, reached a historic deal Tuesday after talks that spanned the previous 20 months. But the bridge between the U.S. and Iran began being built in 2011, when U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Ali Salehi, the chief of the Iranian atomic weapons program, bonded over baby gifts from MIT.

Moniz was new to global diplomacy after working as an MIT professor; Salehi earned his doctorate from MIT, and two of his children were born while he studied there, according to The Boston Globe.

The two were paired together after Salehi was added to Iran’s team of nuclear negotiators and Moniz was offered as an equivalent, since his department oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons program.

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It was a perfect match.

Moniz brought Salehi baby gifts from MIT for his grandchildren, like onsies with the period table symbols of copper and tellurium (“CuTe’’) and a stuffed school mascot toy, and Salehi brought Moniz fruits and pistachios, according to the Globe.

A spokeswoman from MIT was unable to comment on the situation.

Read the Globe’s inside look at how the Iran talks unfolded.

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