Iran’s Rouhani: Not Seeking the Bomb, Willing to show Flexibility

Ann Curry of NBC News gets a scoop, with an interview with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, in which he restates Iran’s position that it is not seeking, and will never seek, a nuclear weapon. He said that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, had recently stressed ‘heroic flexibility.’ US economic sanctions are severely affecting the Iranian economy, and Rouhani was elected by the public in part to negotiate with the US and alleviate this duress.

The USG Open Source Center translates from the conservative Iranian newspaper, Tasnim, on the significance of ‘heroic flexibility:’

“Heroic Flexibility Different from Retreat, Says Analyst
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Document Type: OSC Transcribed Text

TEHRAN (Tasnim) An analyst says Iran’s new administration has adopted a new approach in its foreign policy and is after improvement of ties with the West, but that this changed tack should not be confused with a retreat from the principles of the Islamic Revolution.

The heroic flexibility approach in diplomacy does not mean retreating from the known paradigms of the Islamic Revolution, but means artistic diplomacy in dealing with the existing situations, Hassan Hanizadeh said of the latest remarks by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

Hanizadeh also added that the Leader has valuable experiences in various fields, and that the new administration can take advantage of such experiences in dealing with other countries.
Ayatollah Khamenei stated on Tuesday that he approved of the policy of “heroic flexibility” in dealing with other countries.
Addressing a gathering of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) commanders and veterans here in Tehran on Tuesday, the Leader said that he endorses wise and correct measures in domestic and foreign policies, adding, “I agree with what I called a few years ago ‘heroic flexibility’ because this move is very good on some occasions and is necessary, but only with commitment to a main condition.”

The main condition is to thoroughly understand the nature of the other side and its objectives, the Leader added.

Hanizadeh said given the current situations, the administration of President Rouhani wants to improve ties with the West — which is quite different from the approach of the previous government — and settle the problems through dialogue and interaction.

The heroic flexibility approach can have positive economic results for the country and help ease western sanctions against Iran, Hanizadeh concluded.

(Description of Source: Tehran Tasnim in Persian — Conservative news agency;

30 Responses

  1. What’s truly remarkable is this; I have the feeling the U.S. and Israel want Iran’s government gone. The U.S. and Israel are not honest brokers and have, as just stated, their own agendas.
    Frankly, I think Iran (President Hassan Rouhani) is telling the truth. I think there is a very rough road ahead as the U.S. and Israel try to fail the talks. Like it or not, Iran is a major player in the M.E.
    The past is a very good tell on the future. And Wesley Clarke’s statement, “…seven countries in 5 years…” is not off the table as far as I’ve heard.
    All of that said, I will be very happy to be proved wrong regarding the U.S. and Israel. Peace breaking out would be a genuine shocker…

    • This analysis suffers from treating “the US” as a single entity with a unified political outlook, instead of recognizing the different factions in our foreign policy thinking.

      There are certainly those in the US who would pursue the course you describe. Fortunately, none of them are in the White House.

      • “This analysis suffers from treating “the US” as a single entity with a unified political outlook, instead of recognizing the different factions in our foreign policy thinking.”

        Interesting, given all the “analysis” of “policy” by certain people here who talk in almost all other contexts as if the personifications disdained, in this particular piece of the running argument here, are reality..

  2. As things seem to be going well for a possible rapprochement between Iran and the United States and even a meeting of the officials at the highest level, one should expect some dramatic events to take place to prevent the success of these moves, as has happened so many times before.

    Meanwhile, Netanyahu has set out his conditions for any US-Iran talks in advance, namely, “There are four steps,” Netanyahu said. “The first is the cessation of all uranium enrichment activity, the second is the removal of uranium from Iran, the third is the closure of the Qom facility and the fourth is the halting of plutonium enrichment.”
    link to

    All this of course while Israel holds on not only to her conventional superiority over all her neighbours, but to all her chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
    link to

    • If Nethanyahu wanted to tell Obama what the conditions for US-Iranian talks would be, he shouldn’t have spent the last five years disrespecting Obama and rubbing his face in settlement activity.

      • Given Netanyahu’s power in Congress, he can probably set the terms whatever Obama thinks. After all it would be pretty hard for Obama to compromise with Iran while Congress is passing more sanctions with a veto-proof majority! US policy towards Iran is determined by Tel Aviv, not the White House.

        • US policy towards Israel is largely determined by Tel Aviv, but if US policy towards Iran was similarly outsourced, then where is that Iranian bombing campaign I’ve been told for the past five years was just around the corner?

  3. If the US can oust the PNAC politicians from winning elections, and Iran can show progress and flexibility, and Russia and the US can work together diplomatically, there is a great chance that we can live in a peaceful planet!

  4. Occurs to me Putin could follow up his slam on Obama by taking the high ground on disarmament. With Syria getting rid of chemical weapons only six countries have not verified the chemical weapons convention. These include North Korea (already under arms sanctions), Egypt and Israel. A UN resolution sanctioning nations with chemical weapons and advocating arms embargoes would be politically difficult to veto given the US has been preaching the evil of nerve gas for months.

    Follow that up with forcing compliance with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the US will be forced to choose between protecting its client state or actually doing something constructive. An interesting dilemma for the State Department and a chance for Putin to strut and put the knife again.

  5. This is quite positive. If Iranian government continues to free the political prisoners and stop intimidating them after they are free then removing the sanctions will be in order.

  6. As we all should know, Iran’s nuclear program is only a peripheral issue. After all, the consensus opinion of the US intelligence community is that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. It is only Western and Israeli politicians, think tanks and media that promote the nuclear narrative.

    The real issue is the regime, and the real goal is regime change. Anything Rouhani does will not change that without a fundamental change in US policy.

    What Rouhani’s positive signals will do, however, is show the rest of the world where the real obstacle lies.

    • “The real issue is the regime, and the real goal is regime change.” Bingo, and I really doubt anything will keep that from happening.

      Until the British parliament gave a thumbs down to Cameron, Obama definitely had planned to attack Syria. Then he went to Congress and basically flip-flopped. After that, Netanyahu said “Israel will defend itself, by itself, against all enemies.” If Obama plays too nice with the Iranians, it could be VERY dangerous and if Israel does attack, the Republican war hawks will give Netanyahu their full support.

      • If what you are saying is correct, Obama has once again painted himself into a corner. He could have accepted the intelligence community’s assessment. Instead, he actively cried ‘wolf’ along with Netanyahu. Just because walking back his lies is inconvenient and embarrassing doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t respond to Rouhani’s overtures. To do otherwise pins the onus for the problem squarely on the United States.

        • Obama is walking on a very thin line, mainly because he doesn’t know how the loose cannon Netanyahu will react.

          Last night, Ehud Barak was on the Charlie Rose Show. His comments about some of Iran’s nuclear tests were eye openers for me. According to Barak, Iran has conducted specific tests that can not be used for any peaceful nuclear activities.

          Again, according to Barak, there are definite red lines Iran should not cross and behind closed doors the Israeli government has made that very clear to the Iranian government.

          I’m sure the Iranians took note of his comments.

          Unlike the messianic nutjob Netanyahu, Ehud Barak makes clear concise points about Iran’s nuclear program. He was impressive.

          If ya get the opportunity please watch it. The Charlie Rose Show 9/19/13.

        • It is my understanding that Iran has successfully tested missiles with the ability to hit Israel. That is part of Iran’s defense strategy. Realpolitik: why would Iran forgo missiles that could reach Israel? Why would Israel not forgo weapons that can reach Iran? But Iran’s testing of missiles is different from development of a nuclear weapon. Sure, Iran would have to have missiles or some other way to launch a nuclear attack. But those missiles would also be a conventional deterrent to attacks against Iran.

      • Destroying Iran’s capability to enrich uranium would not be easy. Reinforced bunkers, dispersion of targets, overflying sovereign nations and long distances to cover are only the start – as Israel discovered in Lebanon, the first strike could be the start of a decade long war as new facilities are built.

        The chances of Israel striking on its own are low – which is why they want the US doing it. Perhaps they could drag the Americans into a conflict by starting a war but recent events makes this look risky.

    • Some “inconvenient” things to keep in mind that both American and Israeli MILITARY leaders appear to know …

      – Iran has very sophisticated air defense systems, including clones of the Russian S-300 (Even before Russia backed out of the sale, Iran got a complete system from a third party and cloned it). The S-300 has a range of about 100 miles and can intercept aircraft, UAVs and cruise missiles.

      – Israel has only five active subs and each has only four tubes to launch cruise missiles. Each cruise missile has a range of about 900 miles. Given the severe space limits on a Dolphin sub, it is likely that each sub has only four cruise missiles.

      – As much as 65% of any aircraft/cruise missiles that enter Iranian airspace could be destroyed. That is, the “second wave” will be tiny.

      – Israel has about 400 F-15 and F-16 aircraft with limited range and limited bomb load capacity. None can carry a “bunker buster” bomb.

      – Iran has between 200 and 500 MRBM that can reach Israel, plus per the IDF’s own published reports, there are more than 50,000 short range missiles pointed at Israel by Israel’s neighbors. “Iron Dome” and the other anti-projectile system can intercept a MAXIMUM of 1000 incoming objects, that leaves a lot of destruction raining on Israel.

      – Given the sophistication of the current government in Iran, I suspect that if Israel attacks, Iran will NOT retaliate militarily but go to the UN for severe economic sanctions on Israel(basically bankrupting the country since Israel has no oil income). While the US would try to protect Israel, it would eventually have to throw Israel under the bus or see the US economy dragged under. Russia, Iran and China could invoke UNGA-377, isolating the US and Israel completely.

      – There have been at least three very sophisticated simulations of war between Iran and the US/Israel that I know of. These were done in the US, Israel and Europe. ALL ended up with the US and Israel losing very badly. In all the scenarios, the US lost many warships, including at least one carrier. Israel lost almost their entire fleet of aircraft.

      The bottom lies are …

      – Almost none of the US and Israeli military leaders want to attack Iran because it is very probably they will suffer major losses.

      – If Iran actually wants nuclear weapons, there is absolutely NOTHING the US or Israel can do to stop them, NOTHING.

      – It appears to me that Obama realizes that the US can not “win” in any sense of the word with Iran and is trying to get the best deal he can while keeping Israel muzzled.

      – When all is said and done, Iran will have a nuclear program and no regime change and Israelis will be very angry but unable to do anything about their anger.

      – The US is going to have to throw Israel under the bus if it wants to avoid a terrible future.

      • SPYGUY, everything you said might turn out to be true, however listening to Ehud Barak on the Charlie Rose Show convinced me that Israel is serious when they say all options are on the table.

        It was the look on his face as well as his words.

        A nuclear program is one thing. Iran with nuclear weapons is an altogether different story. Iran should heed Barak’s words especially with Netanyahu in charge. Bibi is a couple of cans short of a six pack, IMO.

      • Presume you meant the “bottom lines…”

        Question: if only 3 of the Dolphin class are able to get to sea with their 4 tubes each stuffed with a cruise missile, and if per the estimates, the Israeli MIIC has figured out how to stick a nuke in the nose of each, and if each nuke is kind of conservatively figured at 100KT of “yield” (I hate that word — should be limited to food crop descriptions, but there’s the linguistics), what is left of any “civilization” in that part of the world, and would the Armageddonists in the US various-parts entity called the Nuclear Strike Force be able to resist activating all those pre-targeted nukes that WE have paid for?

  7. The reputation of the US has fallen dramatically this year (drone strikes, NSA spying). I wonder if this outward appearance of a softer Iranian regime is a well-calculated move on their part to appear virtuous compared to the US. I would really like to believe, like Farhang wrote above, that Iran’s recent actions (election, pushing for Assad to remove CWs, releasing political prisoners) represent a change in the regime’s attitudes.

    If the Supreme Leader’s comments about “understanding the other side and its objectives” can be taken at face value, then it’s good news for two reasons. The first reason is that he’s no longer referring to “the other side” as “the enemy” like he did during the election. It would also be good news because if I understand correctly, the regime’s problem is that their worldview is very narrow and lacks an understanding of worldwide views.

    • You write: “if I understand correctly, the regime’s problem is that their worldview is very narrow and lacks an understanding of worldwide views.”

      Surely that’s the US and Israel you are talking about.

      The majority of the world’s nations support the right of Iran to enrich uranium, and note that Iran is not the aggressor in the region.

  8. I think American-Irananian rapprochement is inevitable. The Iranian people are the American people’s most natural allies in Southwest Asia. My the end of this century, an American-Indian-Iranian alliance will be as important as NATO was in the 20th.

    It’s only a matter of there being a moment when both countries have leaderships ready to seize the opportunity, and this just might be that moment.

    • I agree, Joe, that given the right political chemistry, Iran, of all countries in the Near East, would be the most natural ally of the United States in the Region. In fact, under the Nixon Doctrine implemented in 1969, Iran under the Shah was the guardian of US interests in the region, as we pulled back from our defense commitments during the Vietnam War wind-down.

      Nevertheless, I would not go so far as to consider an American-Iranian alliance as important as NATO was and is. There is nothing that I can see that suggests our national interests would align in the future as seamlessly as they did with the US and our NATO allies during the Cold War. For one thing, there is no existential threat to bind us together. For another, Iran is likely to have very different priorities in the region than the US.

      I don’t see a NATO-like alliance between the US and Iran, but I do see the possibility of an agreement to act in concert when both our interests are in alignment.

  9. I’m so tired of hearing and reading about what the “US” and all other “countries” around the world want. This is crap. 99% of the average people in all countries want to work, raise their families, educate their children, have a few extras and enjoy life. They don’t want wars, nuclear weapons, embargoes, secrecy, etc!!

    It’s the damn politicians, mostly millionaires or becoming millionaires and their corrupt millionaire/billionaire rulers that continue with the war games and manipulation of the controlled news media that brainwashes their 99%.

    The US needs political reform. I don’t have the knowledge or wisdom but it seems like such reform would include getting rid of the professional politicians, reducing their salaries to a couple hundred thousand, limiting terms of office, making all special interest groups include average Americans, not the corporations, the millionaire or billionaires, the MIC, the corrupt FDA, etc.

    And no more secrecy, everything public! No under the table deals, closed sessions. Let Americans hear the crap that goes on which will mean real news, not entertainment.

    I worked in Iran and have talked with a some Iranians in America–the average Iranian just like the average American does not want nuclear weapons.

    All you commenters should not use the terms, Iran or Iranians; US or Americans want nuclear weapons or this and that. Specify the Iranian government, the US government wants this or that. “The corrupt governments.”

    All this so call intelligent talk is about the less than 1% of the population and is hogwash. The average person is not represented by any of the government.

    Please no nit-picky comments or intellectual BS.

  10. The most interesting part of this story is watching this play out on social media. The NYT had a good story up earlier about this. Starting with Rouhani’s Rosh Hashana greeting — can you ever imagine that knuckle dragger who preceded him in office doing that — as well as his dismissal of holocaust revisionism. There’s a clear opening here and Obama’s been smart to reciprocate. Who knows? Maybe there’ll be good news to report out of the MidEast sooner than we think. That would be a welcome change.

  11. “I wonder if this outward appearance of a softer Iranian regime is a well-calculated move on their part to appear virtuous compared to the US.”

    According to independent, non-mainstream media commentators such as Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett the Iranians have been willing to compromise, but the US-Israel cabal hasn’t.

  12. Iran releasing political prisoners? How about the U.S.A. releasing geopolitical prisoners for which no proofs of wrongdoing have been found, and as a matter of fact, for some of them declared innocent, but still kept in jails, whether in Gitmo, in Iraq, in Europe, and probably elsewhere on some out-of reach military base in the Indian Ocean, just to name that region.

  13. Now we have a pope that is more reasonable and a Iranian president that is more reasonable. Would it be too much to ask for a John Kerry that is more reasonable ? Or (God forbid) a Netanyahu that is reasonable ?

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