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 and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    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.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora