by Banafsheh Zand
"Nuclear weapons have no role in Iran's national security doctrine; therefore Iran has nothing to conceal." — Iranian President Hassan RouhaniThe following are excerpts from interviews with Iran's new President, Hassan Rouhani, all within the last three weeks, in Asharq Al-Awsat and a few live television debates with the other candidates in Iran's recent election:
Iran's nuclear program and talks between Iran and the P5+1:
"A politically motivated campaign of misinformation has persistently attempted to cast doubts on the exclusively peaceful nature of this program. This campaign is being fueled and directed first and foremost by Israel, to divert international attention not only from its own clandestine and dangerous nuclear weapons program, but also from its destabilizing and inhuman policies and practices in Palestine and the Middle East. Regrettably, the Security Council has discredited itself by allowing the United States to impose this counter-productive Israeli agenda.
"I will reverse this trend by restoring international confidence and exposing the ulterior motives [of Iran's critics]. Nuclear weapons have no role in Iran's national security doctrine; therefore Iran has nothing to conceal. But in order to move towards the resolution of Iran's nuclear dossier, we need to build both domestic consensus and global convergence and understanding through dialogue.
"Iran should articulate its positions and policies in a more coherent and appreciable manner, and the United States and its allies should abandon their deception of manufacturing new enemies and portraying Iran and its exclusively peaceful nuclear program as a threat. Serious, balanced and time-bound negotiations aimed at resolving clearly defined questions and concerns by both sides can play an effective role in resolving this artificially manufactured crisis. The P5+1 can be one channel for such negotiations, provided that they are prepared to be a vehicle for understanding and resolution of the issue rather than a tool for procrastination and political blackmail."
Policy towards the conflict in Syria:
"There is a human tragedy going on in Syria and all must do their utmost to put an end to this travesty. But facts cannot be overlooked. Syria has remained the only country in the region to resist Israeli expansionist policies and practices. Furthermore, the fratricidal conflict in Syria was provoked and continues to be fueled by certain governments within and outside the region. In my view, and in order to find a fair and generally agreed solution, Iran can play a mediatory role between the Syrian government and those in the opposition who strive for democracy and good governance."
Stance on the Palestinian–Israeli conflict:
"Since the inception of the Islamic Republic, the Palestinian issue has been high on the agenda of our foreign policy. Iran will continue to support the Palestinian cause whole-heartedly."
On the Obama administration's policy towards Iran:
"Obama's policy on Iran should be judged by his deeds, not by his words. His tactic, as he himself has indicated, is to speak softly but to act harshly. Sanctions adopted and implemented against Iran during the Obama administration are unprecedented in the history of bilateral relations between Iran and the US. If sincerity can be measured, and intention can be read, sanctions and daily threats are the criteria for this measurement and reading. In my view, Obama's policy toward Iran cannot lead to the improvement of the troubled bilateral relations as long as the US's mischievous treatment of Iran continues to dictate the course."
Relationship with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei:
"Decisions on major foreign policy issues constitutionally require the support of the Supreme Leader. Having served as Iran's national security advisor during the Khatami and Rafsanjani administrations, I am privileged to have a long experience of working closely with the Supreme Leader, I expect to receive the same support and trust from the Supreme Leader on initiatives and measures I adopt to advance our foreign policy agenda."
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