News / Middle East

    Skepticism Remains as Iran's Charm Offensive Exits UN Stage

    Skepticism Remains as Iran's Charm Offensive Exits UN Stagei
    X
    September 28, 2013 1:28 PM
    Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by phone Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The leaders agreed to work on resolving suspicions that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. The 15-minute conversation was the latest of several steps that may - or may not - indicate a thawing of decades of hostility between Washington and Tehran. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports, this follows a week of busy diplomacy at the United Nations General Assembly.
    Iranian and US Presidents Speak by Phone

    Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by phone Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.  The leaders agreed to work on resolving suspicions that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.  The 15-minute conversation was the latest of several steps that may - or may not - indicate a thawing of decades of hostility between Washington and Tehran.

    It became a common occurrence in New York - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani walking to the podium, talking about Iran's "real face."

    "My government is prepared to leave no stone unturned in seeking a mutually acceptable solution," said Rouhani.

    But after a meeting of Iran's foreign minister and world powers, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was still skeptical.

    "Needless to say one meeting and a change in tone, which was welcome, doesn't answer those questions yet and there is a lot of work to be done," said Kerry.

    Iran's foreign minister called the same meeting constructive while sticking to Tehran's bottom line:

    "As we move forward, there has to be removal of sanctions, and, in the end game, there has to be a total lifting of all sanctions," said Javad Zarif.

    Getting there is still likely to be tricky. Despite Iran's repeated and renewed denials, many in the West aren't convinced Tehran is ready to give up on acquiring nuclear weapons.  And Iran's unveiling of new drones, capable of carrying missiles, isn't likely to ease such concerns.

    Reaction in Iran has been reserved - seemingly little disappointment a hoped for meeting between President Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama failed to materialize.

    "If they [the Americans] take one step forward, we'll take two, so that we can achieve a result," said a resident of Tehran.

    "The reason we didn't agree to meet them (Americans) is because of their arrogant nature," said another.

    Still, during a news conference Friday, President Rouhani said he was satisfied with how things went.

    Ellen Laipson is director of the Stimson Center:

    "I think he did what he was supposed to do.  He made a conciliatory engagement with the world's public - not just the U.S," said Laipson.

    Some analysts say the the two leaders' failure to meet shows Iran sees the nuclear talks and relations with the U.S. as two distinct issues that can be addressed separately -- with the nuclear talks taking top priority.

    Any final decision on either still resides with the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    "He's going to test the waters.  If it works, he wins," said
    Joe Cirincione, who is with the non-profit Ploughshares Fund. "He shows that diplomacy under his rule has worked.  If it fails, he also wins. His view the U.S. can't be trusted."

    Hanging over the diplomatic efforts are concerns about Israel, which accuses Iran of using this new outreach to stall for more time to build a nuclear weapon.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address the U.N. on Tuesday,


    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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Amin from: Texas
    September 28, 2013 1:28 PM
    All this will be forgotten next week. NuttyYahoo will be in town with his bomb diagram showing us with calipers just how close the Iranians have come to his red line.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    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 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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora