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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid