United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Rouhani at 100 Days: Easing Up is Hard to Do

Hanif Kashani and Robin Wright

            The honeymoon is over. President Hassan Rouhani marks 100 days in office on November 12, which is also his birthday. During his campaign against five rivals, Rouhani distinguished himself as the people’s champion and pledged to create a government of “prudence and hope.” And shortly after his election, Rouhani bluntly told his fellow clerics, “A strong government does not mean a government that interferes and intervenes in all affairs. It is not a government that limits the lives of people.”

      “We have to give people a free hand,” Rouhani said. “We shouldn't intervene so much in people's private lives and culture.”
      But for all his lofty promises, little has tangibly changed so far. Indeed, Iran’s new president faces growing opposition from hardliners over his promise to ease rigid government controls on Iranian society. 
      “People in all fields have been struggling,” Culture Minister Ali Jannati told Ghanoon newspaper shortly before his appointment. “Our friends in cinema, literature, music, and the press have all been dealing with the same issues. I imagine that ultimately this new government will have to make changes at a very basic level.”
 
Television
            After his election, Rouhani pledged to ease up on television censorship. In an English-language tweet, the new president even chastised IRIB, the state-controlled television, for its poor news coverage. “When IRIB airs the birth of a panda in China but nothing about unpaid workers protesting, it is obvious that the people and youth will ignore it,” Rouhani tweeted.
            At a September 26 address to the Asia Society, Rouhani said his government’s objective “is to provide free access to information for the people…Presently even Iranian villages have access to satellite [dishes]. All you have to do is to look at their rooftops.”
            Yet just two days later, a Revolutionary Guards unit in Shiraz used a tank to crush 800 confiscated satellite dishes. Dishes have long been illegal in the Islamic Republic because they bring in foreign programs—including news, soap operas, music, talk shows and films­—but millions have defied the law and hidden dishes on their rooftops.
            New Culture Minister Ali Jannati criticized the crackdown. “Prohibiting satellites and jamming their signals won’t be effective,” he said on November 5. “We need to consider content that the viewers are attracted to.” But the ban has not been lifted.
 
Cinema
            Rouhani, who is a self-described movie buff, also pledged to lift restrictions on Iran’s once vibrant movie industry. “We must allow cinema organizations to be free,” Rouhani said in a television interview during the campaign. “Let’s leave the cinema to those who know cinema, to filmmakers, artists.” Five weeks after his inauguration, his culture ministry reopened the House of Cinema, an alliance of motion picture guilds that had been shut down since January 2012.
            But the new government also has not yet loosened longstanding controls, which include approval of movie scripts and allocation of film supplies controlled by the culture ministry.
 
Social Media
            Rouhani opened one Facebook and two Twitter accounts—in English and Farsi—for his presidential campaign. Shortly after his election, he said that internet filtering was futile and pledged to minimize censorship. “In the age of digital revolution, one cannot live or govern in a quarantine,” he said.
            In a highly unusual exchange, Rouhani had a Twitter conversation with Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in October. Dorsey sent a tweet to Rouhani’s English-language account asking if Iranian citizens could see Rouhani’s posts. Referring to his CNN interview, the Iranian president replied, “Evening, @Jack. As I told @camanpour, my efforts geared 2 ensure my ppl'll comfortably b able 2 access all info globally as is their #right.
 
            The new culture minister also told reporters on November 5 that Facebook and other social networking sites should be “accessible for everyone…We must reduce the filtering of internet websites to a minimum.” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is particularly active on Facebook. He has 550,000 followers and has engaged in unprecedented debates through detailed accounts of his work.
            Yet Twitter and Facebook have remained blocked for ordinary Iranians. They can only reach personal accounts to post or connect by going through foreign servers. Authorities have reportedly announced that some 5 million websites are blocked. In July 2013 alone, 67 internet cafes were reportedly shut down, according to the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran.
 
Music
            The culture ministry has indicated that it may lift the ban on women singing solo in front of mixed audiences, which has been forbidden since the 1979 revolution. “Some religious authorities have said that so long as solo singing by women does not lead to corruption, it is admissible,” Jannati reportedly said in October. In late October, an all-female folklore band received official permission to perform at one of Tehran’s top halls.
 
            But the government’s action was the exception rather than a new rule. And females are still nervous about potential repercussions. “Why should I be kept under so much stress before my performance?” singer Jivad Sheikholeslami told the Financial Times. “If the female voice was against religion, God would have created us mute.”
 
Media
            Shortly after his election, Rouhani criticized the state-controlled media. “There are a number of media in our country, but there is no variety,” he said. In a pointed reference to the closure of 40 newspapers between 2009 and 2013, Rouhani also said that good “government receives its legitimacy from the support of the people [and] isn’t afraid of a free media.”
            Press censorship seemed to loosen during the first three months of Rouhani’s presidency. In August, a few publications banned during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency were allowed to publish again. Reformist papers also took new risks. Shargh ran a front-page interview in September with Alan Eyre, the State Department’s top Iran watcher.
 
           
            Yet the judiciary continues to clampdown on the media, especially reformist publications. In October, the judiciary shut down popular reformist daily Bahar for a controversial article on early Islamic leadership and then arrested its editor Saeed Pourazizi. He was released on $80,000 bail.
            In November, the judiciary also blocked the reopening of reformist paper Ham-Mihan, which was closed in 2007 during Ahmadinejad’s presidency. Judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani warned on October 30 that the courts will continue to "act with determination against those who falsify the history and try to undermine the fundamentals of the regime."
 
Books
            During the June 5 presidential campaign debate, Rouhani openly warned his rivals that “censorship kills creativity.” And after his inauguration, his new culture minister criticized the heavy censorship imposed on books during Ahmadinejad’s presidency. “Under such methods, censors would have rejected even the Koran, and would have argued that some of the words in it are against public morality,” Jannati said on October 8.
            Yet the government must still approve all manuscripts for publication. In October, more than 200 writers, poets and translators wrote an open letter to Jannati appealing for an end to censorship. They vowed to take responsibility for the consequences of anything they wrote. The letter was published by many publications, including Bahar, the newspaper that was subsequently banned.
 
Hanif Z. Kashani is a consultant for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Middle East Program. 
 
Robin Wright has traveled to Iran dozens of times since 1973. She has covered several elections, including the 2009 presidential vote. She is the author of several books on Iran, including "The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and transformation in Iran" and "The Iran Primer: Power, Politics and US Policy." She is a joint scholar at USIP and the Woodrow Wilson Center.
 

 

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Rouhani at 100 Days: Few New Freedoms Yet

Hanif Kashani and Garrett Nada

            Iran’s new government has taken only token steps to restore basic freedoms or open up politically during Hassan Rouhani’s first 100 days in office. The cleric had campaigned on an ambitious platform that included free speech, release of political prisoners, and gender equality. He generally pledged to “break this security atmosphere.”
            “A successful domestic policy means peace of mind, security, prosperity,” he said in the June 7 presidential debate. “Freedoms should be protected.”
            After his inauguration, the government announced release of some 80 political prisoners in September, but by November only half had actually been freed. The United Nations reported in October that “hundreds of other prisoners detained solely for exercising their freedom of expression, association and assembly” remain jailed. Up to 800 political prisoners and prisoners of consciousness may be behind bars in Iran, according to an investigation by The Guardian.
            The most telling case involves the detention of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, two presidential candidates in 2009 who led protests against the disputed reelection of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hardliners charged them with sedition, although they have never been tried.
 
      The slow pace of change has begun to alienate some of Rouhani’s supporters. After visiting Karroubi’s family on October 29, reformist leader and former interior minister Abdollah Nuri warned Rouhani, “Do not forget the substantial amount of supporters who voted for you because they are fed up with lawlessness, the violation of civil rights, harassment, and the narrow-mindedness of them [government officials].”
 
 
            The failure to deliver has also sparked growing criticism from the human rights community. “President Rouhani has an immense responsibility to uphold his promises to protect citizenship rights and use all means at his disposal to stop this latest onslaught against civil and human rights,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “His silence in the face of such an affront is emboldening hardliners in the Judiciary and Intelligence who insist that Rouhani’s election will not change the status quo.”
 
Human Rights
            During the presidential campaign, Rouhani repeatedly pledged to work for the release of political prisoners. At a June 1 rally, his supporters chanted “Political prisoners must be released!” Rouhani replied, “Why just political prisoners? Let’s do something in which all prisoners [of conscience] will be released!”
            The judiciary, intelligence agencies and national security apparatus all play roles in arrests and trials, but the presidency has influence both through its popular mandate and a seat on the Supreme National Security Council. Since Rouhani’s inauguration, a handful of notable prisoners of conscience have been released, including human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and journalist Isa Saharkhiz. Student activist Majid Tavakoli, jailed since the 2009 protests, received a temporary furlough from prison in October.
            Yet the Rouhani administration has not prevented new arrests or executions. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi dismissed government promises as “a big lie. Twelve or thirteen people have been released but these are people who had served their time,” she told the Associated Press in November.
            Recent high-profile arrests include actress and activist Pegah Ahangarani (below), who was sentenced to 18 months  in October on security charges. She campaigned for Rouhani as well as 2009 presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Human rights groups also reported that at least 125 executions had been carried out between Rouhani’s election in June and his first three months in office.
 
Presidential Candidates
            The continued detention of former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi is the most visible example of Rouhani’s failure on human rights. Both men worked closely with Rouhani in the 1980s, during the revolution’s first decade, when Mousavi was prime minister and Karroubi speaker of parliament. The opposition leaders (below) have been under house arrest since February 2011 for leading the Green Movement protests that challenged former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2009 reelection.
            During the presidential campaign, Rouhani promised action. “I don’t think it will be difficult to bring about a condition in the next year where not only those under house arrest but also those who have been detained after the 2009 election will be released,” Rouhani said in May.
      Hopes for the Mousavi and Karroubi’s release were dampened in late October. Mousavi’s daughters were attacked by female guards after visiting their father and mother. Nargess Mousavi wrote about the encounter on her Facebook page:
      “We couldn't believe it at first, but she [the guard] unabashedly repeated her demand [to search the daughters], even saying she wanted us to take off our underwear. To try and describe her treatment of us defies basic human decency. After refusing to take off our underclothes, she attacked us and smacked both my sister Zahra and myself in the ear with a great deal of force.”
            Rouhani’s silence on the incident prompted harsh criticism from some prominent supporters. “Our first condition was for you to try to release all political prisoners, particularly to end the house arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi,”Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastgheib was quoted as saying on opposition websites. Dastgheib is a member of the Assembly of Experts, the powerful body charged with overseeing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
 
Gender Equality
            Rouhani’s campaign platform promised women “equal rights and equal pay,” including equal opportunities for men and women in senior government positions. He also pledged financial support for female heads of households and promised to create a ministry of women’s affairs. In contrast, conservative candidate Saeed Jalili argued that the “main role for a woman is to be a mother.”
            During his first 100 days, Rouhani did appoint women to some prominent positions, including two vice presidencies. Elham Aminzadeh is vice president for legal affairs. Masoumeh Ebtekar is vice president and head of the Environmental Protection Organization. At the foreign ministry, Marzieh Afkham is Iran’s first female spokesperson. He vowed to appoint many more. “You’ll see women active everywhere,” Rouhani said during his New York visit in September (video below).
 
            Although he is a cleric, Rouhani also criticized police enforcement of Iran’s strict Islamic dress code, which requires women to cover their head and shoulders. “If there is a need for a warning on the hijab issue, the police should be the last to give it,” he told police academy graduates in October. “Our virtuous women should feel safe and relaxed in the presence of the police,” he added.
            But Rouhani is now trapped between hardliners who are pushing back on gender equality and women who want him to move further and faster. The Association of Iranian Women demanded that Rouhani address women’s issues and treatment of “feminism as a taboo subject” within the first 100 days of his presidency. “There is no excuse for the president to claim he is powerless to advance women’s rights in Iran,” prominent human rights lawyer Mehrangiz Kar told the Brookings Institution in October.
 
Academic Freedom
             During the campaign,Rouhani promised greater freedom of expression, especially on university campuses. In the June 5 presidential debate, he condemned the forced retirement of professors and expulsion of student activists since nationwide protests in 2009. His Twitter account even chastised hardline candidate Saeed Jalili, a close associate of former President Ahmadinejad.

             Since taking office in August, Rouhani has continued to press for more freedom in universities. “It would be a shame if professors could not express their opinions,” Rouhani saidat Tehran University on October 14. “University officials should respect freedom of expression, and we should not be involved in the bad and inappropriate tendency of sending teachers into early retirement. I call on the security services to pave the way to that diplomacy and to trust professors and students."
            In September, Rouhani dismissed Sadreddin Shariati, the president of Allameh Tabatabai University, for his role in the dismissal of faculty and politically active students. Shariati had also tried to segregate coed classrooms.
            But little has actually changed. The government also has not reversed policies that prohibit women from enrolling in 77 fields of study —including engineering, accounting, education, counseling, and chemistry— or that replace women’s studies curricula with courses on women’s rights in Islam at universities, according to a U.N. report in October. The government has also not canceled quotas that favor admission of men to universities. Few of the roughly 1,000 students who were expelled after the 2009 protests have been allowed to return to school, according to Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.
 
Hanif Z. Kashani is a consultant for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Middle East Program.
 
Garrett Nada is the assistant editor of The Iran Primer at USIP.
 

 

Online news media are welcome to republish original blog postings from this website in full, with a citation and link back to The Iran Primer website (www.iranprimer.com) as the original source. Any edits must be authorized by the author. Permission to reprint excerpts from The Iran Primer book should be directed to permissions@usip.org
 

Gallup: Most Iranians Say Sanctions Hurting

            Some 85 percent of Iranians said international sanctions have hurt their livelihoods, according to a new poll by Gallup World. Half of respondents said they have been hurt “a great deal.” A higher percentage of Iranians said that sanctions had hurt the country overall. Since early 2012, punitive measures have reduced Iranian oil exports by about 60 percent. And the soaring inflation rate has dramatically increased the cost of living for many Iranians.  
            Despite the economic burdens, 68 percent of Iranians said their country should continue to advance its nuclear power program. The following are excerpts from the new poll report.

           
           Despite the perceived economic toll, two in three (68%) Iranians say their country should continue to develop nuclear power despite the scale of sanctions against Iran. This higher support in the face of international pressure highlights the role Iranian nationalism plays in the nuclear standoff with the West. Support is lower when Iranians are asked if they approve or disapprove of their country developing nuclear capabilities for military (34%) and non-military purposes (56%).
           In a previous poll, Iranians held the United States chiefly responsible for the sanctions, with nearly half of Iranians (46%) pinning these sanctions on Washington. Another 13% considered their own government most responsible, followed by 9% who blamed Israel, and 6% each who blamed Western European countries and the United Nations.
 
           
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
            Iranians' blame has been similarly placed each time Gallup has asked this question in 2012 and 2013. Looking at the combined results of the two surveys, Iranians who blame their own government are significantly less likely than those who blame external actors to say that Iran should continue to develop nuclear power in the face of continued sanctions (39% vs. 76%).
 
Click here for the full report.
 

US, Iran Share Goal: Push Back Hardliners

     
      Ahead of new diplomatic talks, top U.S. and Iranian officials are scrambling to push back hardliners opposed to a nuclear deal. Tehran and the world’s six major powers are scheduled to meet from November 7 to 8 for the second time since President Hassan Rouhani took office.
       The previous negotiations, held onOctober 15-16 in Geneva, prompted a backlash from conservatives in both the United States and Iran. Some Iranian conservatives doubted U.S. honesty in negotiations. “We must never compromise with the United States," former nuclear negotiator and 2013 presidential candidate, Saeed Jalili, told crowds at a rally commemorating the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4. Many U.S. lawmakers vocally opposed compromise on sensitive issues like Iran’s right to enrich uranium.
            In an October 28 meeting with lawmakers, Rouhani basically appealed for more domestic support for his diplomatic agenda. “Stronger support inside will empower the government to proceed with the campaign against sanctions,” said the president.
            On November 3, Supreme Leader Khamenei boosted Rouhani’s efforts by publically endorsing the president’s negotiating team, led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “They have a difficult mission, and no one has the right to weaken an official who is doing his job,” said Khamenei. The supreme leader’s office also posted a decades-old photograph of Rouhani (center) with Khamenei (left) emphasizing the administration’s loyalty to the Islamic revolution, including the negotiators.
            President Obama has faced the same challenge. His administration tried to convince U.S. lawmakers to hold off on new Iran sanctions and give diplomacy a chance. Dozens of senators and representatives had called for tightened sanctions ahead of the last round of talks in Geneva. But a top U.S. negotiator, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, said “This is a time for a pause in new sanctions” in an interview with the Voice of America on October 25.
            On October 31, the White House sent a high-level delegation to Capitol Hill to address lawmakers’ concerns and make the case for delaying sanctions. Secretary of State John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew held a closed-door session with key Republican and Democrat senators. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) said Kerry and Lew “were making the argument [for delaying new sanctions], and frankly they’re doing a pretty good job of it,” according to Politico.  
            The following are remarks by top U.S. and Iranian officials who pressed back against hardliners in the run-up to new talks.
Iran
 
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
            “No one should see our negotiating team as compromisers. They are our own children and children of the revolution. They have a difficult mission, and no one has the right to weaken an official who is doing his job.
            Nov. 3, 2013 in remarks to students
 
President Hassan Rouhani
            In a November 3 cabinet meeting, President Rouhani emphasized the “unique and unprecedented opportunity” for diplomacy brought about by his election. He noted that “people may differ in their approach” to negotiations but argued that Zarif and his team are advocating for Iran’s rights. Rouhani’s office tweeted translations of his remarks.
            Rouhani also thanked Khamenei for his support in a November 3 tweet.
The United States
 
Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman
  
             “We think that this is a time for a pause [in new sanctions], to see if these negotiations can gain traction… Congress has its prerogatives. We don’t get to control Congress, but we are having very serious discussions. We work as partners with Congress. They’ve been very effective partners as we’ve tried to approach this negotiation. We need them to continue to be effective partners to reach a successful conclusion, and I have trust that they will be.”
             Oct. 25, 2013 in an interview with the Voice of America
 
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki
            “We have conveyed that any congressional action should be aligned with our
negotiating strategy as we move forward. So while we understand that
Congress may consider new sanctions, we think this is a time for a pause, as
we asked for in the past, to see if negotiations can gain traction.
“None of those sanctions have been pulled back, as we’ve discussed.”
Oct. 25, 2013 in a press briefing
 
National Security Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden
             “The window for negotiation is not open-ended, and if progress isn't made, there may be a time when more sanctions are, in fact, necessary. We have always said that there would be no agreement overnight, and we've been clear that this process is going to take some time.
             “We feel that it’s important that any new proposals take into account the progress we’re making diplomatically and leave open the flexibility. There’s always time for sanctions in the future as needed, but this is an ask we’re making to Congress now.”
             Oct. 25, 2013 to reporters at the White House
 
 

World Leaders on Upcoming Diplomatic Talks

      World leaders expressed skepticism that the second round of diplomatic talks in Geneva would produce a dramatic breakthrough agreement on Iran’s controversial nuclear program. Even President Hassan Rouhani (left), who reinvigorated diplomacy after his August inauguration, was skeptical. “The government is not optimistic about the Westerners and the current negotiations. But it does not mean that we should not have hope for removing the problems,” he reportedly said on November 4.
      Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shared the president’s outlook. “I am not optimistic about the negotiations but, with the grace of God, we will not suffer losses either,” Khamenei said on November 3.

            Western leaders were as cautious as their Iranian counterparts. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed a will to test diplomacy while seeming to allude to possible military action if all else fails. “I want to emphasize, President Obama will not take any option off the table in this process, but we do seek to put to test the reality of the possibility of a diplomatic solution,” Kerry said on November 4. E.U deputy foreign policy chief Pierre Vimont noted on October 29 that Iran’s “proactive diplomacy” has yet to “pave the way to major concessions.”
            The following are excerpted remarks by top Iranian, U.S. and E.U. officials on the status of nuclear talks.
 
Iran
 
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
            “I am not optimistic about the negotiations but, with the grace of God, we will not suffer losses either… All the better if the negotiations bear fruit but if there are no results, the country should rely on itself.
            “The Americans smile and express desire for negotiation; on the other hand, they immediately say that all options are on the table… We should not trust a smiling enemy.
            “No one should see our negotiating team as compromisers. They are our own children and children of the revolution. They have a difficult mission, and no one has the right to weaken an official who is doing his job.
            “The Americans have the highest indulgence towards the Zionists and they have to. But we do not share such indulgence. The Zionist regime is an illegitimate and bastard regime.”
            “To solve the country’s problems, [we should] look inward. In diplomacy, a successful country relies on domestic capacity.”
            Nov. 3, 2013 in remarks to students
 
President Hassan Rouhani
            “The government is not optimistic about the Westerners and the current negotiations. But it does not mean that we should not have hope for removing the problems.”
            Nov. 4, 2013 in remarks published by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA)
 
            In a November 3 cabinet meeting, President Rouhani was ore optimistic about upcoming talks. His office tweeted translations of his remarks.
 
            “Had it been otherwise, the [nuclear] case would have been settled much sooner and without the ongoing visit and talks… Naturally, reaching agreement and settling all the problems would take time; of course, I hope we will take the initial step to solve the problem by the year-end.
            “Stronger support inside, will empower the government to proceed with the campaign against sanctions.”
            Oct. 28, 2013 in a meeting with lawmakers
           
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
            “On the nuclear issue, I believe the problem we have faced in the last ten years is we have both seen the nuclear issue as a zero sum game; we have articulated two seemingly opposing objectives, and each tried to make gains for one objective seemingly at the expense of the others.
            Tehran will “do everything in our negotiations with the P5+1 [world’s six major powers] to ensure that even the perception that Iran has anything but peaceful intentions for its nuclear program will be removed, because we believe that even the perception that Iran pursues a nuclear weapons program is not only wrong, but dangerous.
            “The result has been that ten years ago, Iran had less than 160 centrifuges spinning, now it has over 18,000. Iran’s economy was prospering, now sanctions are hurting the wrong segment of the population. I hope we have come to understand that approach was wrong.
You “cannot kill all our scientists and kill our program. …You cannot destroy the technology. How to ensure [the program] is peaceful: allow it operate in a transparent fashion; you cannot push it under the rug.”
            “I believe leaders need to show leadership [on the nuclear dispute]. I think experience shows, once there is a good deal, the U.S. president will be able to sell it, and I think we will be able to sell it too.”
            Nov. 1, 2013 in a speech at the Pugwash Conference in Istanbul, Turkey
 
The United States
 
Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman
            “We do not approach this [dispute] on the basis of trust because we know there's great deal of mistrust on both sides.”
            “We have not offered any sanctions relief on Iran, and we have not removed any sanctions.”
            “If we can, in fact, stop the program from advancing further while we negotiate a comprehensive agreement and offer very limited, temporary, reversible sanctions relief but keep in place the fundamental architecture of the oil and banking sanctions — which we will need for a comprehensive agreement, not for a first step — then I think we are starting to make progress… No deal is better than a bad deal.”
            Nov. 1, 2013 in an interview with Israel Channel 10
 
Secretary of State John Kerry
            “Finally, on Iran, let me reiterate the position that President Obama has made clear many times:  The United States will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.  That policy has not changed.  President Obama has stated again and again that our preference is to resolve this challenge peacefully, through diplomacy, and we are committed to giving diplomacy a real chance to succeed.  And while this window is open, while we are testing whether Iran is willing to take the steps required to satisfy the international community’s concerns, the burden remains squarely on Iran to demonstrate through credible and verifiable action that its nuclear program is indeed, in fact, peaceful and only peaceful.
            “We state clearly:  Words will not satisfy this.  It’s only actions that will speak to our concerns.  We believe that no deal is better than a bad deal.  That won’t change.  And I want to emphasize, President Obama will not take any option off the table in this process, but we do seek to put to test the reality of the possibility of a diplomatic solution.”
            Nov. 3, 2013 in remarks with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal
 
President Barack Obama
            “I shared with the [Iraqi] Prime Minister [Nouri al Maliki] our efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue in a peaceful way, but emphasized to him how important it is that Iran seize this opportunity to take the right path in accordance with previous international norms and resolutions.  My hope is, is that we can arrive at a resolution, but I emphasized to the Prime Minister how serious we are about preventing a nuclear arms race in a region that would only add to the dangers that so many people there already face.”
            Nov. 1, 2013 after a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki at the White House
 
 
The European Union
Pierre Vimont, Secretary-General of the European External Action Service
            “The new Iranian negotiators have undoubtedly adopted a new approach, but it is still rather difficult to conclude that they have presented a new policy. The Iranian team has definitely decided to go for a very proactive diplomacy, but whether this will pave the way to major concessions on the substance of these talks remains to be seen. So far, the Iranian side has made a rather comprehensive presentation combining what could be seen as the endgame of the present talks and, at the same time, what can be depicted as the first mutual moves that both sides could agree on in an effort to engage in some confidence-building measures.”
            Oct. 29, 2013 in an interview with Al Monitor

 

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