Wednesday, 25 September 2013

IRAN: Rouhani's charm offensive

Iran, the perennial bad boy of the international community, has suddenly become the diplomatic darling at this year's U.N. General Assembly session, mounting a charm offensive that has many U.N. diplomats asking themselves: Can this be real?

In his diplomatic debut before the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed hope on Tuesday that U.S. President Barack Obama would not be swayed by "war-mongering pressure groups" at home in dealing with the Iranian nuclear dispute and called for a consistent voice from Washington on the issue.

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly just hours after Obama addressed the annual gathering of world leaders, Rouhani said he was prepared to engage in "time-bound and results-oriented" nuclear talks and did not seek to increase tensions with the United States.

Iran poses absolutely no threat to the world President Hassan Rouhani said in his address to the UN General Assembly. At the same time, militarism of “some players” and generalization of western values, he says, poses a true danger for the world security.

Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, stated that nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security doctrine in a sweeping speech, which also condemned the use of drones in the Middle East, as well as the enforcement of harmful and “violent” sanctions on Tehran.

Iran's charm offensive contrasted starkly with Iran's previous appearances at the United Nations. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's former president, took a certain pleasure in pushing Washington's buttons, lambasting Israel and raising doubts about the veracity of American claims that al Qaeda carried out the 9/11 attacks. The change of tone from the Ahmadinejad era appears to be having an effect.

The White House is clearly enticed by the Iranian overtures. The Iranian diplomat has been invited to participate in a meeting of big-power ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on Iran's nuclear program.

But not everyone was swayed by the Iranian diplomatic gambit. Despite what some analysts believe has been a marked change in Iran's posturing since the election of Mr. Rouhani, who is thought to be more of a reformist than his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Israel largely signalled its rejection, with the country's delegation walking out of the UN chambers during the Iranian President's address, as has been the custom in prior UN General Assemblies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has openly dismissed Iran’s newly conciliatory stance on its nuclear program, labelling it as a ruse designed to buy the Islamic Republic more time.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analyst/Writer
Investigative Journalist

Photo Credit: Reuters, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly