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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rouhani’

Netanyahu in US on ‘Mission of Truth’

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to land in the United States early Sunday morning “tell the truth in the face of the sweet-talk and the onslaught of smiles,” referring to Iranian President Hussan Rouhani’s “charm offensive” in the United Nations last week.

The Prime Minister said before boarding the lane late Saturday night, “This evening I am leaving for New York and Washington to meet with President Obama and afterwards address the UN General Assembly….

“One must talk facts and one must tell the truth. Telling the truth today is vital for the security and peace of the world and, of course, it is vital for the security of the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu to Ministers: Keep Mum on Obama-Rouhani Call

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

On Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his government ministers not to grant media interviews on political issues. The order came 24 hours after the phone conversation between President Barack Obama and his Iranian counter part Hassan Rouhani as the latter was leaving the U.S.

Netanyahu ordered all his government ministers to cancel all their interview dates on radio and television tonight and tomorrow, and to avoid any public response to any of Rouhani’s remarks, and, more specifically, to avoid comments on the one-on-one phone conversation.

Media commentators in Israel have suggested that the PM wishes to avoid any domestic embarrassments on the eve of his meeting with Obama, with his own coalition members issuing statements that contradict his own.

Though more likely, with the situation as delicate and unstable as it is, Netanyahu probably has a strategy in mind in how to deal with these latest developments, including Obama’s surprising linkage of dealing with Iranian nuclear weapons to Israel’s forced capitulation to the Palestinian Authority, Rouhani’s, apparently successful, charm offensive, and an unreliable ally that has further destabilized the Middle East; Netanyahu simply doesn’t want his strategy derailed or undermined by a misspoken comment.

This was the first direct conversation between an American and an Iranian leader in 34 years. The conversation lasted 15 minutes, at the end of which Obama blessed Rouhani in Iranian with the word “Khodahafez”, which translates into “God should be with you”.

Rouhani tweeted the conversation to his followers.

Netanyahu is set to meet with Obama before his speech at the UN this week.

A commentator on Iran’s Press TV suggested the possible rapprochement between Iran and the U.S. was Netanyahu and the Israeli lobby in the United States nervous, that “you could fry an egg on the top of Netanyahu’s head at any given time during the day right now. He is absolutely furious.”

The commentator, Mark Glenn, said Netanyahu is so frustrated because he “did not get his war in Syria, he is not going to get his war in Iran and now you have got an American administration talking reasonably with the Iranians, first time it has happened over thirty years.”

What Netanyahu actually said about Rouhani’s UN speech was that “as expected, this was a cynical speech that was full of hypocrisy. Rouhani spoke of human rights even as Iranian forces are participating in the large-scale slaughter of innocent civilians in Syria. He condemned terrorism even as the Iranian regime is using terrorism in dozens of countries around the world. He spoke of a nuclear program for civilian purposes even as an IAEA report determines that the program has military dimensions and when any rational person understands that Iran, one of the most oil-rich nations, is not investing capital in ballistic missiles and underground nuclear facilities in order to produce electricity.”

Netanyahu added that “it is no coincidence that the speech lacked both any practical proposal to stop Iran’s military nuclear program and any commitment to fulfill UN Security Council decisions,” warning that “this is exactly Iran’s strategy – to talk and play for time in order to advance its ability to achieve nuclear weapons. Rouhani knows this well. He bragged that, a decade ago, he had succeeded in misleading the West so that while Iran was holding talks, it simultaneously advanced its nuclear program.”

“The international community must test Iran not by its words but by its actions,” Netanyahu insisted.

The Israeli delegation left the hall during Rouhani’s speech, in order not to “grant legitimacy to a regime that does not recognize the existence of the Holocaust and which publicly declares its desire to wipe the State of Israel off the map.”

Responding to a note of protest from Treasury Minister Yair lapid, who faulted the PM for ordering Israel’s diplomats to leave, Netanyahu said: “As the Prime Minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, I could not allow the Israeli delegation to be part of a cynical public relations ploy by a regime that denies the Holocaust and calls for our destruction.”

Rouhani Says Ice Beginning to Break with the West, Bibi Not Impressed

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that the ice was already “beginning to break” between his country and the West. This despite the fact that there has been no meeting, no hand-shake, not even a polite nod in passing between himself and President Barack Obama in the UN halls in New York City.

White House officials confirmed on Tuesday that no meeting would take place, indicating that meeting would be “too complicated” for the Iranian when he goes back home.

Rouhani addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, and then sounded conciliatory in a CNN interview. He said there had been “some talks” to arrange a meeting to give himself and Obama an opportunity to “talk with each other” but there was not sufficient time to coordinate such a meeting.

There you go, it wasn’t obedience to the ayatollah back home, it was just bad timing.

Asked whether he has been “authorized” by the Iranian supreme leader to improve ties with the West, Rouhani said he has the authority to do what he wants, according to national interests.

The supreme leader, he said, is not opposed to negotiations if they are necessary for the national interests of Iran.

“But speaking of the ice-breaking you mentioned, it’s already beginning to break because the environment is changing. And that has come about as a result of the will of the people of Iran to create a new era of the relations between Iran and the rest of the world,” Rouhani told CNN.

While the centrifuges keep on churning and while Iran is putting together warheads. A brave, new era, indeed.

When the CNN host asked him to deliver a message directly to the U.S. public, Rouhani said in English, “I would like to say to American people: I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans.”



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed President Obama’s call for Iran’s recent “conciliatory words” to be “matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”

A JTA report suggested that Netanyahu’s insistence on dismantling any Iranian nuclear capacity as a condition for stopping the boycott against it could signal a major difference with the Obama administration as the U.S. engagement with Iran advances.

American-Iranian Jews Decline Meeting with Rohani

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

“No thanks” is the message American-Iranian Jews delivered to new Iranian government headed by President Hassan Rohani, after the regime sent the Iranian American Jewish Federation received an official invitation to meet with him in New York.

The meeting also would have included Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif and the only Jewish Iranian Member of Parliament, Siamak Moreh Sedgh.

The Iranian officials are in New York for this week’s United Nations General Assembly, where Rohani will speak at the same time that the Israeli delegation will make sure not to be present.

‘Moderate’ Rouhani Misled West, Sneaked in Centrifuges?

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

There is a particularly interesting aspect to the video that has recently surfaced, in which Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, gloats over Iran’s success in coopting European negotiators to keep the Iranian nuclear program on track in the mid-2000s, in spite of pressure from the United States.

The video clip, from an Iranian news-program interview of Rouhani in Farsi, was published by Reza Khalili.  Ryan Mauro highlights it at the Clarion Project, tying it to a report from 31 July in which Mauro outlined Rouhani’s extensive history of using deception about the Iranian nuclear program back when he was the chief nuclear negotiator for Tehran.

The deception and Rouhani’s gloating are important (see especially his characterization of the top-cover he received from European negotiators); I will let readers visit the reports and soak in the information at your leisure.  What I want to focus on here is the timeline Rouhani refers to in the video.  If he is telling the truth – and there is no obvious reason why he would lie about the timing he refers to – the timeline he outlines for bringing Iranian centrifuge cascades online in substantial numbers makes a poignant contrast with the reporting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the time.

The contrast highlights just how in the dark IAEA was during this period, at least about the centrifuges.  (It’s also worth highlighting, in general, the timeline of what was going on during the EU-brokered negotiations Rouhani refers to in the video.)  Certainly, many in the West had an uneasy suspicion that, by the end of 2005, Iran may have accomplished more than IAEA was officially aware of.  But, as late as February 2006, IAEA acknowledged the following decisive condition:

Due to the fact that no centrifuge related raw materials and components are under Agency seal, the Agency is unable effectively to monitor the R&D activities being carried out by Iran except at the [Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant],* where containment and surveillance measures are being applied to the enrichment process.

Rouhani’s timeline

The full timeline from the video develops as follows.  Rouhani summarizes it between the time hacks of 3:45 and 4:30.  His overall allusion is to the period from October 2003 to August 2005, when he was the chief negotiator for the Iranian nuclear program.

His initial discussion of the nuclear power plant at Bushehr contains no surprises; it is couched in the following terms:

- First phase of Bushehr project completed – Beginning of 2004

- Next phase completed – Fall of 2004

These references are presumably to Russia’s completion of facility construction, which was noted at the time in Western reporting.

- Project completed – March 2005

This is probably a reference to an agreement between Russia and Iran, concluded in February 2005, under which Moscow would supply the enriched-uranium fuel for the light-water reactor at Bushehr.  (See here as well for a summary from 2006 alluding to the 2005 agreement.)

iran-nuc-facs

So far, so good.  Next, Rouhani speaks of the heavy-water reactor, or the plutonium reactor at Arak.

- “Production” started at the heavy-water plant – Summer of 2004

Construction of the reactor was begun in June of 2004, but Rouhani here appears to be referring to the heavy-water production plant (HWPP), a particular component of the Arak reactor system, which reportedly began operation (i.e., the production of heavy water) in November 2004.

In this walk back through the Iranian nuclear program, it is worth recalling what the official line was about Arak at the time, in the big middle of the EU-3 talks with Iran:

Iran has started building a research reactor that could eventually produce enough plutonium for one bomb per year, ignoring calls to scrap the project, diplomats close to the United Nations said on Thursday. …

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran had created a “confidence deficit” by concealing parts of its atomic program for nearly two decades and urged Tehran to improve its transparency and cooperation with U.N. inspectors. A concluding statement from this week’s IAEA governing board meeting said the 35 members unanimously said it was “essential that Iran provide full transparency and extend proactive cooperation to the agency.” …

Israeli Source: Obama No Longer Committed to Iran Attack Option

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

A senior Israeli government official has told Kol Israel this morning that he doubts the Obama Administration’s commitment to prevent Iran “at any cost” from attainting a nuclear weapon.

The official explained that the Administration’s behavior in Syria, in complete contradiction of President Obama’s declarations, shows Israel that it cannot rely on American promises.

The senior official added that Israel could execute a strike against Iran without American operational support, but such an attack would be less effective than an American operation.

Israel is extremely concerned that the U.S. might be seeking direct negotiations between Washington and Tehran, leading to easing the sanctions against Iran in return for Iranian concessions that would fall short of Israel’s demands.

It’s likely that the high level official’s statement is an expression of the Netanyahu government’s anxiety over the glee with which the Obama Administration has welcomed the election of a new Iranian president. A White House statement following the inauguration of President Hasan Rouhani Sunday read:

“We congratulate the Iranian people for making their voices heard during the election. We note that President Rouhani recognized that his election represented a call by the Iranian people for change, and we hope that the new Iranian Government will heed the will of the voters by making choices that will lead to a better life for the Iranian people. We do believe that his inauguration presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community’s deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. And, as we’ve said all along, should the new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations, we are ready to talk to them when they are ready to do so.”

Direct talks, as suggested by the White House statement, always begin with “confidence building measures,” and the Netanyahu government must be worried that it would be picking up the tab on the new couple’s honeymoon.

In the State Dept. daily press briefing yesterday, Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf was asked: “The Israeli Government said over the weekend it does not trust Rouhani because of statements which they say indicate, again, an existential threat to Israel’s existence. Is the U.S. taking that concern under consideration when it looks at how it might want to engage with Rouhani?”

Harf answered that the U.S. will take “the whole range of security concerns, the security problems Iran has presented for the region into account,” when it decides how to deal with the new Iranian Government. She reiterated that it’s important “to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon because of the threat they could pose to Israel, to the region, and indeed to us as well.” But, finally, hope sprang eternal, and Harf acknowledged that the U.S. is “waiting to talk to them when they are ready to engage substantively.” Meaning – one on one.

Harf was next asked “What’s the first step that you would want to see Rouhani take on the nuclear issue?”

“We have a proposal on the table,” she said. “We’ve had it on the table for some time and we’re waiting for a substantive response from the Iranian side on how to move forward. And we’ve been clear that that’s what needs to happen next.”

All of which suggests that the Supreme Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei has played a brilliant game in picking his new “moderate” president.

Khamenei made Rouhani chief of Iran’s nuclear negotiations in 2003, for the same reason he made him president this time around – the man can talk a candy out of the western babies’ hands. Rouhani ran the negotiations between Iran and three European states in Tehran and continued later in Brussels, Geneva and Paris.

Rouhani’s team back then was described as “the best diplomats in the Iranian Foreign Ministry.” They prevented further escalation of accusations against Iran, and so prevented Iran’s nuclear case from going to the UN Security Council. They figured out how to temporarily suspend parts of Iran’s nuclear activities to appease the West.

And so, while building confidence, insisting on Iran’s rights, reducing international pressures and the possibility of war, and preventing Iran’s case from being reported to the UN Security Council, Iran succeeded in completing its nuclear fuel cycle and took groundbreaking steps to produce a nuclear weapon.

Iran: Can Rouhani Deliver?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

By Nir Boms and Shayan Arya

Last week, more than 250 Iranian steel workers gathered in front of the Supreme Leader’s residence in protest against unjustified layoffs and unpaid salaries. They were not the only ones. Reports from the past week revealed a dozen other such protests and strikes that range from a tire company, cable workers, the cinema association and even employees of Iran’s Ministry of Youth Affairs.

Protests and demonstrations are not that common in Iran; their last wave was met with harsh repression and violence. Now they have spread again and become more brazen. Signs again read “Down with the dictator,” while police used tear gas in an attempt to scare protesters away.

A combination of international sanctions and domestic mismanagement has resulted in rapidly rising unemployment and restive unemployed youth. The worsening economic conditions were also a key driver for the vote for change which took place in Tehran during the last Presidential election. But change is still a long way off.

Rouhani’s victory by such a wide margin was not just a testament to his politics, but seemingly a total rejection of the more conservative candidates more closely aligned with the widely despised supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Rouhani’s campaign symbol was a giant golden key, which he waved at rallies to symbolize his ability to open locked doors. To an Iranian electorate all too familiar with locked doors in every aspect of their lives — both domestic and international — even the remote possibility of things getting better was irresistible. But now that Rouhani has been elected, he may find it difficult to deliver on his promise.

Rouhani, to be sure, will face a mountain of problems, even compared to those of his predecessors. Iran’s international isolation has never been so severe. There is virtually no segment of Iran’s economy, or for that matter of Iranian society, that has been immune to the ill effects of the economic sanctions. In less than a year, Iran’s currency has lost two-thirds of its value against the dollar; and even by the most optimistic estimates, inflation is above 30%, with unemployment reaching similar proportions among urban youth.

Iran’s economy is under attack from two major fronts: international sanctions and domestic mismanagement inherent in the Islamic system.

Sanctions are not a new phenomenon there. Previous sanctions were imposed in response to the Islamic regime’s international support for terrorism and Iran’s dismal human rights record. But the more stringent sanctions now afflicting Iran were levied in response to the country’s nuclear program — and these are the crippling sanctions Rouhani needs to undo. To accomplish such a change, a change of policy is required. In addition to the nuclear issue, any negotiations for lifting sanctions obviously need to include Iran’s abandoning support for Hezbollah, its involvement in Syria, its continued support of other terrorist groups, as well as the Assad regime that continues to slaughter its people.

Rouhani’s first challenge is that he does not hold the keys to most of these issues. Iran’s policies on the nuclear issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, international terrorism and supporting the Assad regime are the sole purview of Iran’s supreme leader. No president has ever been able to enter these domains in any meaningful way, let alone alter them substantially; these issues have, in fact, always been sources of tension and discreet friction between presidents and the supreme leader.

Another challenge lies in the United States Congress. As many of the sanctions against Iran have been embedded in laws, it would take a Herculean effort on the part of President Obama to convince the legislative branch to change them. Even if the president were to decide to “trust” Rohani, he would still need to convince Congress. Given the political atmosphere in Washington, it is unlikely the president would even consider risking his remaining political capital on lifting sanctions without being able to demonstrate substantial progress in changing Iran’s course.

A third challenge lies on the domestic front. Here Rouhani must face an endemic system of corruption, in addition to gangs of Revolutionary Guards [IRGC], who have extended their control over almost every aspect of Iran’s economy, government, military and security apparatus. To change that, Rouhani would have to tackle the IRGC and their powerful ally, the Supreme Leader Khamenei, who sees them as his extended arm for controlling Iran and key to the Islamic regime’s survival.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/iran-can-rouhani-deliver/2013/07/31/

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