The New Yorker:
By Robin Wright
On Friday evening, I attended a party hosted by Mehdi Atefat, the senior Iranian diplomat in Washington, to mark, as the embossed invitation noted, “the glorious occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the Victory of the Islamic Revolution.” I’ve gone to Iran’s commemorations over the years for insight on the state of play—or degree of hostility—between Tehran and Washington. During the Shah’s era, Iran’s diplomatic mission was famed for its White House connections and its hedonistic, caviar-infused parties, attended by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Andy Warhol, and Barbara Walters, on Embassy Row. It closed after President Carter broke off relations in 1980, a few months after students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
Since then, Iran has relied on three dozen Iranians with green cards to conduct its business in the United States. The teetotalling revolutionaries operated for years out of a second-floor office, above a liquor store, far from the diplomatic quarter. They often complained about not being allowed enough telephone lines to cope with the consular needs of some three hundred thousand Iranian-passport holders living in the United States. As Iran negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal with the world’s six major powers, the Obama Administration allowed the Interest Section to move to classier digs—with more telephone lines—in Washington’s West End. It’s now a twenty-minute walk from the White House and on the same street as the State Department.
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