News / Middle East

Iran’s New President Launches Charm Offensive

Iran’s New President Launches Charm Offensivei
September 20, 2013 10:04 PM
Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani has launched what analysts are calling a charm offensive before next week’s United Nations General Assembly in New York. As VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports, it is raising hopes there might be a fresh opportunity to negotiate with Iran over its controversial nuclear program.
Iran’s New President Launches Charm Offensive
Meredith Buel
Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani has launched what analysts are calling a charm offensive before next week’s United Nations General Assembly in New York. It is raising hopes there might be a fresh opportunity to negotiate with Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

Rouhani, in a flurry of recent comments, has created a strong impression that Iran is ready for serious diplomacy.

In the latest sign the newly elected leader is open to improving relations with the West, Rouhani told NBC News his country will never develop nuclear weapons. He also said he has the clout to make a deal with the West on the disputed nuclear program.

Rouhani said he wants to move quickly. “Regarding Iran’s nuclear issue, we want the swiftest resolution of this issue in the framework of international standards.”

The Iranian leader’s remarks came days before his first appearance as president on the world stage at the U.N.

Iranian expert Patrick Clawson said, “He is charging ahead with this charm offensive and he will probably be very effective at it because he knows how to reach Western audiences.”

In recent weeks Iran has sent greetings for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, via Twitter.  

It has transferred responsibility for nuclear negotiations from conservatives in the military to the Foreign Ministry, released a group of political prisoners and exchanged letters with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Even more significant, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is signaling his country is ready for diplomacy.

“We are not opposed to correct and rational steps on the diplomatic front, be they in the world of diplomacy or whether they fall in the arena of domestic politics. I firmly believe in what was termed many years ago as “heroic flexibility.” This is not a problem - flexibility in some areas is essential and is a good thing,” said Khamenei.

What appears to be driving the new tone from Tehran is the country’s faltering economy following multiple rounds of sanctions. Its currency has lost half of its value, and its oil exports are significantly down.

But its nuclear program continues to enrich uranium. Iran says its plants are for peaceful purposes. The West and Israel believe they are a cover for developing weapons.

White House officials say there are currently no meetings scheduled between the president and his Iranian counterpart. But press secretary Jay Carney said Obama is open to negotiations.

“He would, as president, be willing to have bilateral negotiations with the Iranians provided that the Iranians were serious about addressing the international community’s insistence that they give up their nuclear weapons programs,” said Carney.

Even if Iran comes back to the bargaining table, analysts say negotiations with the West will be hard.

“The question is, can we do a deal which preserves what Iran sees as the important parts of its program, but at the same time keeps Iran far from having a capability to quickly develop nuclear weapons,” said Clawson.

In addition to his speech at the U.N., Rouhani plans several public appearances and television interviews during his stay in the United States.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 21, 2013 1:57 PM
Good showing, that's what diplomacy is all about. But what about his FM insisting on Iran's right of a nuclear program? It's really going to be crunchy. What about the students seizing embassies again? Where really is the trouble of Iran anchored?

by: Ajax Lessome from: USA
September 21, 2013 12:39 AM
Iran is no moderate. Iran has a long and notorious history for the torture and severe treatment of its political prisoners and dissenters. It's an unfortunate aspect of the rule under Iran's mullahs who like any other tyrant are more concerned with preserving their power and hold over the people than in governing and leading them into a better future. Khamenei and his handpicked president Rouhani are going to chart a course for Iran that leaves little doubt over the fate of Christians, converts, political opponents, ethnic minorities and all others who are not in lock step with their Islamic view of the world. For all of the attempts at portraying a new moderate face of Iran, Rouhani is a loyal career hardliner. You can see his resume at The only real hope for Iran's future and political prisoners is regime change

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs