News / Middle East

Iran's Rouhani Takes Conciliatory Stance

Iran's New President Strikes More Conciliatory Stancei
X
August 06, 2013 8:06 PM
Iran's newly sworn-in president swept to victory in the country's June elections by offering a new approach. Now that Hassan Rouhani has been sworn in, he is making some promises, including about reviving nuclear negotiations with the West. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
VIDEO: Wwept to victory in June elections by offering a new approach, Hassan Rouhani is now making some big promises, including revival of nuclear negotiations with the West.
Iran's newly sworn-in president swept to victory in the country's June elections by offering a new approach.

Now that Hassan Rouhani has been sworn in, he is making some promises, including about reviving nuclear negotiations with the West.

In his first news conference, Iran's Rouhani set a softer tone than his predecessor.

"We observe carefully all actions taken by the U.S. government. If they take constructive and meaningful steps, the Iranian government certainly will show a similar response," he said.

Rouhani also said Iran is ready for "serious and substantive" negotiations on its nuclear program, expressing optimism a solution can be reached.

The United States and other Western nations suspect Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons. The White House has said repeatedly, that the burden is on Tehran to prove its nuclear program is peaceful.

"Should it be willing to do that in a verifiable way, there's an opportunity for Iran to reenter the international community, to ease the burden of it's isolation," said White House Spokesman Jay Carney.

The issue is crucial for Iran. The international community has hit the country with round after round of sanctions over its nuclear program, crippling its economy.

Former Ambassador James Jeffrey, with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said it is something the new Iranian government cannot ignore.

“The public overwhelmingly want these sanctions to end. They clearly are tired of the economic straits that Iran finds itself in, and any government, including an Islamic government, is going to feel pressure to respond to that,” said Jeffrey.

Already, some of Rouhani's appointments may indicate how serious he is about that response, starting with Javad Zarif for foreign minister. Zarif is Iran's former ambassador to the United Nations. He is U.S. educated, well known to Western diplomats, and not afraid to sound tough.

"The people and the government  the Islamic Republic of Iran  are determined to exercise their inalienable right to nuclear technology," said Zariff.

He is also willing, however, to sound conciliatory.

"Iran is prepared for a negotiated solution," said Zariff.

As for how much that means, Matthew Duss of the Center for American Progress is unsure.

"Right now we're still very much in the stage of  speech-making and slogans,"said Duss. I think very soon we'll have an opportunity to test whether Rouhani is able to make good on some of his promises."

Rouhani swept to victory by winning over reform-minded voters. Now it seems he has made an opening to the West. But any changes will need the approval of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who likely will be looking over Rouhani's shoulder every step of the way.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ella Jones from: Kings Point, NY
August 07, 2013 2:36 PM
Not only does Rouhani still support Assad, he also has a long standing history of running in the Ayatollah's inner circles and he's involved in Iran's production of nukes! This man is no moderate.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 07, 2013 7:27 AM
Matthew Duss rightly summarized it all. It's after the talks when the actions begin that we shall know what Rouhani is up to. It is not about the cream of his cabinet, after all we have seen many extremist Islamists who schooled in the west only to turn back with extreme hatred for the west. While we watch and hope that Rouhani and his ministers will bring about the desired change - even though some of his ministers like Jawad Zarif are already toeing a hardline approach and talking tough about the determination of Iran to its right to nuclear power - Rouhani can start by showing how much he's prepared to do what he promises by opening up the domestic front in Iran so that people can start exercising their freedoms. Right now there are many political prisoners and those who cannot express themselves as free citizens because they belong to religious minorities or have secular views.

Before September when Russia has fixed the beginning of nuclear negotiation, Rouhani can make speeches to show that people are now free in their own country Iran, free political and religious prisoners and declare amnesty for those held under house arrest for their moderate views. We should not wait until nuclear negotiations start to see how much democracy Rouhani will introduce in the country. If all he has to show for his touted change is nuclear negotiation, then there is much to be desired, and the bottle neck has not been removed by his election victory. Which will then be seen as a bad arrangement, window dressing and playing to the gallery.

by: MVolze from: Washington D.C.
August 06, 2013 10:41 PM
I think this is a great article. However, it's just so hard to believe that Rouhani is serious when Iran continues to enrich plutonium far past civilian levels as they inch towards actual nuclear weapons. If they gave up weaponization it'd be easier to swallow their attempts at "democracy"
In Response

by: Joe Clark from: Washington D.C.
August 07, 2013 4:04 PM
This is important to consider all the nuclear stuff, but don't forget that this is the same guy who was a member of the Ayatollah's inner circle back in the 70s. That's not moderation in any form.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 07, 2013 1:48 PM
Alex (New York), we are no longer talking about Iran's nuclear capability. Certainly by now, all the time they have bought in the past in the name of negotiation is enough to make whatever bomb/nuclear warhead they want. How long does it take to enrich uranium to the highest level when the knowledge and resources are there? Has Iran not had more than enough time? Even the delay to September, isn't it another delay tactic to finalize the nuclear warhead formation? What has Rouhani promised? Only negotiation. Iran believes Israel has nuke secretly and so wants to get its own secretly too. By now Iran already has nuke. Q.E.D.
In Response

by: Alex from: New York
August 07, 2013 11:22 AM
For whatever the reason is, Most western media 1- forget that theory of 'enrich and negotiate" was fabricated by Rouhani. 2- They keep ( or like) to forget that Rouhani is Ahmadinejad in a softer tune. The essence is that mullahs want to have a bomb and negotiation is only a time buying tactic.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More