News / Middle East

    Iran's Rouhani to Strike Softer Tones at UN

    Iran's Rouhani to Strike Softer Tones at UNi
    X
    September 24, 2013 4:55 PM
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will address the United Nations General Assembly for the first time at Tuesday's opening session. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports that expectations are high for Iran's new leader, who is taking a less aggressive approach to nuclear talks.
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will address the United Nations General Assembly for the first time at Tuesday's opening session.  After setting a reformist tone throughout his early days in office, expectations are high for Iran's new leader, who is taking a less aggressive approach to nuclear talks.
     
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Iran's new president could signal a new way forward.
     
    "I think Rouhani's comments have been very positive, but everything needs to be put to the test, we'll see where we go," said Kerry.
     
    Iran's nuclear program is what most concerns the United States, because Washington believes Tehran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon.  Iran says its atomic activities are for peaceful, civilian purposes.
     
    Hassan Rouhani

    • Elected president with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote in June, 2013
    • 64-years-old
    • Member of the Expediency Discernment Council
    • Served as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 1989 to 2005
    • Member of parliament from 1980 to 2000 
    • Member of the Assembly of Experts since 1999
    • Served as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator before Saeed Jalili
    President Rouhani has taken the lead in trying to soothe those tensions, saying that his country will never develop nuclear weapons and that he wants "the swiftest resolution of this issue in the framework of international standards."
     
    That sort of message represents a major shift from former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who routinely threatened those opposing Iran's nuclear program.  Former U.S. Ambassador Adam Ereli says it is a decidedly more-diplomatic approach.
     
    "Rouhani is a very different personality than Ahmadinejad. He's much more sophisticated.  He's much more cosmopolitan.  He's much more of a politician and less of a populist," said Ereli.
     
    However, Ereli points out this is more form than substance; real power rests with Iran's religious leaders.
     
    "The fundamental tenets of the regime are constant.  And the intentions of the regime haven't changed, whether it be their nuclear program, whether it be their support for terror," said Ereli.
     
    Israel has long called for tougher international action against Iran's nuclear program and does not believe President Rouhani offers anything new.  Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev feels the current warm words coming from Iran are merely a ploy.
     
    "What we heard from the Iranian leadership is unfortunately just sugar-colored words. Words designed to deceive.  Words designed to lull the international community into a complacency," said Regev.
     
    US-Iran Relations
     
    • Iran, U.S. leaders have not had face-to-face contact in more than three decades.
    • U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Iran's Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi were the last to meet in 1977.
    • U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki fail to hold talks on stabilizing Iraq at a 2007 Sharm el-Sheikh conference, but greet each other at a lunch
    • U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have exchanged letters since Rouhani's 2013 election
    Ploy or no, at the very least President Rouhani's overtures give Washington time to step back from confronting Iran at a time of instability in Syria and Egypt, says Cato Institute analyst Doug Bandow.
     
    "I'm sure they want to put this off. I think the new government in Iran is the best reason for them to do so. To be able to say, 'Look. We don't know where this is going but there's much more hope today with someone who within the Iranian system is a moderate,'" said Bandow.
     
    However, some experts, such as former ambassador Ereli, doubt that Rouhani is truly a moderate at all.
     
    "We have a more capable adversary in Rouhani, not a more responsible partner. And so we should be doubly alert to him and what he is trying to do on behalf of the regime just because he's going to be better at it," opined Ereli.
     
    While there are no plans for President Rouhani to meet with President Obama at the U.N., his foreign minister will meet with Secretary Kerry and other international diplomats as part of Security Council talks on Iran's nuclear program.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora