There has been a flurry of optimism surrounding the multi-party talks over Iran’s nuclear wishes. The five plus one group has two days on this with the Iranian delegation in Geneva. There’s a much better chance than last time that hope blooms.
Symbolic gestures over the past few weeks are particularly noticed at the United Nations. Tehran and Washington’s foreign ministers meet personally on the sidelines, breaking a 30-year cold shoulder streak.
And President Hassan Rohani, speaking to the General Assembly, defied American hawks.
He said: “Iran poses absolutely no threat to the world or the region. In fact, in ideals as well as in actual practice, my country has been a harbinger of just peace and comprehensive security. With the political will of the leadership in the United States and hoping that they will refrain from following the short-sighted interest of warmongering pressure groups, we can arrive at a framework to manage our differences.”
What Rohani did next was Tweet President Barack Obama, and then they exchanged courtesies by phone.
Homecoming for Rohani was – perhaps predictably – upbeat. He got a hero’s welcome from many who are fed up with international sanctions against Iran; others who balk at concessions to the US consider him a traitor. The balance tips towards praise. But not from Israel. It’s the only voice still warning that Tehran has bad intentions, and to keep up pressure on the big powers not to take pressure off Iran’s new president.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing; Rohani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community.”
The Iranian has made clear the talks’ five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the US — and Germany can forget about Tehran outright giving up uranium enrichment. It has shown it is ready to attenuate its nuclear programme somehow, if the West relaxes sanctions quickly.