Iran no longer irate (VIDEO)


Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, takes the oath of office.


Atta Kenare

When the president of Iran speaks English to an American audience, the world listens.

"I would like to say to American people: I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans," Hassan Rouhani said on CNN last night.

Here's his full interview with Christiane Amanpour:

What many Americans hear when Rouhani speaks is that he is more progressive than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, his predecessor known for his hard line and invective rhetoric. 

And it does seem to be the case. Emphasis on seem.

Since his inauguration in August, Rouhani has preached moderation and expressed wishes for better relations with the West and his neighbors.

He has criticized the government meddling in people's private lives and pushed for increased participation in government on the part of women. 

A Twitter account in his name, which a government spokesman said is not officially Rouhani's account, certainly sells his image as that of a more modern ruler who's not all about business.

But, as Foreign Policy points out, few of Rouhani's progressive promises have come true as of yet.

There was much talk at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York this week about whether or not Rouhani would shake hands with Obama. The two world leaders did not wind up exchanging niceties. It was apparently "too complicated."

And Iran won't give up "one iota" of nuclear rights, Rouhani told clerics this month, ahead of this week's General Assembly. That line echoes Ahmadinejad almost word-for-word. 

Nor has Rouhani welcomed the resistance to participate in free and fair elections.

Rouhani has charmed the West, and now there's pressure on the West to extend the olive branch to Iran. But until he walks the walk, doing so could cause more damage than we think. 

If the West opens its arms to Rouhani, there's fear it could be a repeat of the nuclear negotiations that he led with Britain, France and Germany, during which he later admitted to having duped the West.

According to the Telegraph:

He boasted that while talks were taking place in Tehran, Iran was able to complete the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake - a key stage in the nuclear fuel process - at its Isfahan plant but at the same time convince European diplomats that nothing was afoot.

"From the outset, the Americans kept telling the Europeans, 'The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.' The Europeans used to respond, 'We trust them'," Rouhani said. Yikes.

He hasn't charmed everyone. 

The Israeli Embassy in Washington has taken to the web to express how it feels about Rouhani:

The parody LinkedIn page refers to Rouhani as “President of Iran, Expert Salesman, PR Professional and Nuclear Proliferation Advocate,” the Daily Beast reports. “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” “Ballistics,” and “Military Justice” are listed as his skills.

Here's hoping that's not true.