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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid