SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

World powers will be opening up talks over Iran's nuclear issue at the Middle East Peace Conference in Geneva next week. And there seems to be a sense of optimism, at least cautious optimism.

With Iran's newly elected President Hassan Rouhani there's been a shift in rhetoric and a more diplomatic approach. Also President Obama spoke to President Rouhani by phone just last month, a first time for leaders of the two nations in over 30 years.

Renowned writer on Iranian affairs, Hooman Majd, sat down with NewsChannel 3 and provided perspective on current U.S.- Iran relations. He also delivered a talk at Santa Barbara City College Thursday afternoon.

Majd says people in Iran seem to be more hopeful with their new leadership in contrast to the 2009 elections that sparked protests with Iran's Green movement. The pressing issue is surrounding Iran's nuclear program. U.S. intelligence has said Iran does not currently have a weapons program. However, the Obama administration believes Iran is about a year away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon.

NewsChannel 3 Anchor Shirin Rajaee reports.