Hassan Rouhani at the UN: Iranian President aims to end pariah status


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends the UN General Assembly in New York this week with hopes of ending Iran’s status as an international pariah and with lesser expectations of engaging the US in substantive negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Speaking before leaving Tehran Mr Rouhani said Iran is “loyal” to its pledge not to seek nuclear weapons and wants negotiations.

Mr Rouhani is already finding it easy to present Iran as less of a threat by using more moderate language than his predecessor as president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who was notorious for his belligerent language. He made it easy for the US to isolate Iran and impose damaging sanctions, particularly those imposed on its oil exports and financial transactions in 2012. By way of contrast, Mr Rouhani has been a model of moderation towards the US and Israel since his inauguration, though he has not announced any changes in policy.

Mr Rouhani differs crucially from his predecessors in appearing to have full support from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who is the ultimate authority in Iran. Mr Rouhani said on Sunday that “Iran has joined all treaties including the non-proliferation treaty, or NPT, and it is loyal to it.” Iran says that it has every right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes such as nuclear energy while the West suspects that it is seeking the means to build a nuclear bomb.

Mr Rouhani will be careful to appear conciliatory while at the UN and in television interviews without courting accusations back in Iran that he is making too many concessions.  In a statement issued just as Mr Rouhani was leaving Tehran on Sunday the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a paramilitary force established to safeguard Iran's revolution in 1979, directly hinted at this. It said that “historical experiences make it necessary for the diplomatic apparatus of our country to carefully and sceptically monitor the behaviour of White House officials so that the righteous demands of our nation are recognised and respected by those who favour interaction."  

The White House said on Sunday said that a meeting was possible between the US and Iranian presidents, the first since the overthrow of the Shah. But such a meeting may be brief and symbolic since President Obama will want to avoid being seen as over-conciliatory in a way that would attract criticism from the Republicans and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stigmatised Iran for covertly planning to build a nuclear device and has threatened unilateral Israeli air strikes.

Relations between the US and Iran have already been warmed by the replacement of Mr Ahmadinejad by Mr Rouhani and the US decision not to launch air attacks on Syria, which is a close ally of Iran. Iran sees the war in Syria as largely aimed by the US, Western Europe, Israel and the Sunni Arab states at weakening its regional influence.  But America’s reluctance to strike at Syria in the wake of the chemical weapons attacks in Damascus on 21 August makes it less likely that it would go to war with Iran over the nuclear issue.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power