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False Hope From Iranian Election Results?

In a gushing report on the election of Hassan Rohani as Iran’s new president, The New York Times began with this: “In a striking repudiation of the ultraconservatives who wield power in Iran, voters…overwhelmingly elected a mild-mannered cleric who advocates greater personal freedoms and a more conciliatory approach to the world.”

(Media outlets are divided over the English spelling of his name; the variations include “Rowhani” [the Times] and “Rouhani” [the Washington Post].)

But does the election result really mean Iran will comply with U.S. and UN demands that it abandon all efforts that could lead to its producing a nuclear weapon? Highly doubtful. Real power lies in Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini, who basically called the shots during the Ahmadinejad presidency.

And already in his first news conference since being elected, Mr. Rohani talked about several preconditions for a “constructive dialogue with the U.S.: First, America must not interfere in Iran domestic affairs…. They have to recognize our nuclear rights, put away bullying policies against Iran. And if such, and they have a good intent, then the situation will change.”

Sounds like we are in for more delay in resolving the Iranian threat under the cover of a post-election “honeymoon period.” Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Obama said the U.S. and its allies would now aggressively press for a resumption of negotiations with Iran that the Iranians unilaterally terminated several months ago.

Prime Minister Netanyahu captured the moment: “Regarding the elections in Iran, we do not delude ourselves…. The international community must not be caught up in wishful thinking and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program.”

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