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

    Video US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora