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For new Iran foreign policy, the proof is in the hiring

June 17th, 2013
04:45 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Want proof that Iran’s president-elect wants to change Iran’s foreign policy?

“Literally every diplomat that Ahmadinejad fired for favoring engagement with the U.S. was later on hired by Rouhani in his think tank,” Vali Nasr, a former member of Obama’s foreign policy team told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Monday. “So he’s been working on this.”

Add to that the fact that Rouhani has a track record on the international stage, as a former chief nuclear negotiator, and Nasr is convinced that diplomats around the world have been given the gift of “breathing room” by the election of the new Iranian president. 

“Rouhani was the architect of probably the most forward-leaning position Iran ever had on the nuclear issue back in 2003,” Nasr said. “And he’s held onto that view.”

At the time, Rouhani led the voluntary suspension of Iran’s nuclear program. Ultimately, the program was started back up. It could be difficult, opined Nasr, for Rouhani to repeat such a step.

“He’s once-bitten, twice-shy,” Nasr told Amanpour. “In other words, he’s not going to stick his neck out for it to be chopped off.”

The United States and its allies have been given the opportunity to “try something new with Iran.” It is Nasr’s hope that the Obama Administration takes the plunge.

“Rouhani can’t come to the table seriously unless the indication is that he can deliver more than Ahmadinejad,” Nasr said.

In order to “sell a deal back home,” Nasr continued, he must show that he can make progress on the issue that most Iranians really care about: economy-crippling sanctions.

In exchange for the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program, he said, the United States has offered little more than aircraft parts and “modest permission” to trade gold and silver.

“Rouhani has to be able to show Iran’s supreme leader and revolutionary guard that the reformists can actually get the United States to offer these things,” Nasr said. “That’s how you build momentum for reform in Iran.”

AMANPOUR: New Day for Iran and the United States?


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Latest Episode
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Akinbode Isiaka Abayomi

    We are hopeful that Rouhanni will toe the path of honour as he has promised.

    June 18, 2013 at 1:43 am | Reply
  2. JULIET ONWUAZO

    This is a welcome development asd we will surely have a breather

    June 18, 2013 at 8:30 am | Reply
  3. Matt

    I hope he doesn't continue the unnecessary anti-western/israel speeches of his predecessor. But I also hope that he stays firm in insisting that Iran has the right to a non-military nuclear program.

    June 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  4. David S

    ???

    June 18, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Reply
  5. David S

    What happen to my posting? Are we censoring the Freedom of Speech again? How Aribish.

    June 18, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Reply
  6. Change Iran Now

    Don't buy it for a minute folks. Rouhani can talk a good game, but the guy pulling the strings is Khamenei and he will tolerate this new perceived moderation because it suits his needs to relieve the economic sanctions. He is still hell bent on a nuke weapons program. It’s just a demonstration of the Khamenei regime’s delicate balancing act to appear moderate, but firmly and fully committed to crushing any dissent and continuing its support of the few allies it has, even ones that use sarin gas against its own people. Yeah, that’s the government that Rowhani heads up now. The only government outside of Hitler’s Germany and Saddam’s Iraq to use chemical weapons in the last 70 years. To see real efforts at changing the regime, check out irangathering.com for the largest meeting of Iranians outside of Iran.

    June 21, 2013 at 12:00 am | Reply
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