United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Rouhani’s UN Speech in Tweets

           President Hassan Rouhani’s office released a flurry of more than 40 tweets during and immediately after his September 24 address to the U.N. General Assembly. The following tweets from @HassanRouhani appear in chronological order below.













































Obama Speaks on Iran at UN

      President Barack Obama told the U.N. General Assembly that the diplomatic path to resolving the Iranian nuclear dispute must be tested. Obama acknowledged past statements opposing nuclear weapons by top Iranian leaders. And he suggested that a nuclear deal could “serve as a major step down a long road towards a different [U.S.-Iran] relationship – one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.” The president’s speech was one of the most significant instances of U.S. public outreach to Iran since the 1979 revolution.
But Obama warned that “conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions are transparent and verifiable.” He also acknowledged that “suspicion runs too deep” to instantly overcome Iran-U.S. tensions dating back more than three decades. Obama referenced the CIA-orchestrated coup against Iran's democratically elected government in 1953. He then clearly stated that Washington is not interested in regime change. The president, however, also pointed out that Iran or its proxies have "taken Americans hostage, killed U.S. troops and civilians, and threatened our ally Israel with destruction."
President Obama also discussed developments in Egypt, Syria and the wider Middle East. It’s time for Russia and Iran to realize that insisting on Assad’s rule will lead directly to the outcome they fear: an increasingly violent space for extremists to operate,” the president said in comments on the Syrian conflict. The following are excerpts from Obama’s speech.

            The United States and Iran have been isolated from one another since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. This mistrust has deep roots. Iranians have long complained of a history of U.S. interference in their affairs, and America’s role in overthrowing an Iranian government during the Cold War. On the other hand, Americans see an Iranian government that has declared the United States an enemy, and directly – or through proxies – taken Americans hostage, killed U.S. troops and civilians, and threatened our ally Israel with destruction.
            I don’t believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight – the suspicion runs too deep. But I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship – one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.
            Since I took office, I have made it clear – in letters to the Supreme Leader in Iran and more recently to President Rouhani – that America prefers to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program peacefully, but that we are determined to prevent them from developing a nuclear weapon. We are not seeking regime change, and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy. Instead, we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and UN Security Council resolutions.
            Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.
            These statements made by our respective governments should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement. We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful. To succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable. After all, it is the Iranian government’s choices that have led to the comprehensive sanctions that are currently in place. This isn’t simply an issue between America and Iran – the world has seen Iran evade its responsibilities in the past, and has an abiding interest in making sure that Iran meets its obligations in the future.   
            We are encouraged that President Rouhani received from the Iranian people a mandate to pursue a more moderate course. Given President Rouhani’s stated commitment to reach an agreement, I am directing John Kerry to pursue this effort with the Iranian government, in close coordination with the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China. The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested. For while the status quo will only deepen Iran’s isolation, Iran’s genuine commitment to go down a different path will be good for the region and the world, and will help the Iranian people meet their extraordinary potential – in commerce and culture; in science and education.
            Nowhere have we seen these [sectarian] trends converge more powerfully than in Syria. There, peaceful protests against an authoritarian regime were met with repression and slaughter. In the face of carnage, many retreated to their sectarian identity – Alawite and Sunni; Christian and Kurd – and the situation spiraled into civil war. The international community recognized the stakes early on, but our response has not matched the scale of the challenge. Aid cannot keep pace with the suffering of the wounded and displaced. A peace process is still-born. America and others have worked to bolster the moderate opposition, but extremist groups have still taken root to exploit the crisis. Assad’s traditional allies have propped him up, citing principles of sovereignty to shield his regime. And on August 21st, the regime used chemical weapons in an attack that killed more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of children.
            With respect to Syria, we believe that as a starting point, the international community must enforce the ban on chemical weapons. When I stated my willingness to order a limited strike against the Assad regime in response to the brazen use of chemical weapons, I did not do so lightly. I did so because I believe it is in the security interest of the United States and the world to meaningfully enforce a prohibition whose origins are older than the U.N. itself. The ban against the use of chemical weapons, even in war, has been agreed to by 98 percent of humanity. It is strengthened by the searing memories of soldiers suffocated in the trenches; Jews slaughtered in gas chambers; and Iranians poisoned in the many tens of thousands.
            The evidence is overwhelming that the Assad regime used such weapons on August 21st. U.N. inspectors gave a clear accounting that advanced rockets fired large quantities of sarin gas at civilians. These rockets were fired from a regime-controlled neighborhood, and landed in opposition neighborhoods.  It is an insult to human reason – and to the legitimacy of this institution – to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.
            I know that in the immediate aftermath of the attack, there were those who questioned the legitimacy of even a limited strike in the absence of a clear mandate from the Security Council. But without a credible military threat, the Security Council had demonstrated no inclination to act at all. However, as I’ve discussed with President Putin for over a year, most recently in St. Petersburg, my preference has always been a diplomatic resolution to this issue, and in the past several weeks, the United States, Russia and our allies have reached an agreement to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, and then to destroy them.
            The Syrian government took a first step by giving an accounting of its stockpiles. Now, there must be a strong Security Council Resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments, and there must be consequences if they fail to do so. If we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the U.N. is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws. On the other hand, if we succeed, it will send a powerful message that the use of chemical weapons has no place in the 21st century, and that this body means what it says.
            Agreement on chemical weapons should energize a larger diplomatic effort to reach a political settlement within Syria. I do not believe that military action – by those within Syria, or by external powers – can achieve a lasting peace. Nor do I believe that America or any nation should determine who will lead Syria – that is for the Syrian people to decide. Nevertheless, a leader who slaughtered his citizens and gassed children to death cannot regain the legitimacy to lead a badly fractured country. The notion that Syria can return to a pre-war status quo is a fantasy. It’s time for Russia and Iran to realize that insisting on Assad’s rule will lead directly to the outcome they fear: an increasingly violent space for extremists to operate. In turn, those of us who continue to support the moderate opposition must persuade them that the Syrian people cannot afford a collapse of state institutions, and that a political settlement cannot be reached without addressing the legitimate fears of Alawites and other minorities. 
            As we pursue a settlement, let us remember that this is not a zero-sum endeavor. We are no longer in a Cold War. There’s no Great Game to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the well-being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring it does not become a safe-haven for terrorists. I welcome the influence of all nations that can help bring about a peaceful resolution of Syria’s civil war. And as we move the Geneva process forward, I urge all nations here to step up to meet humanitarian needs in Syria and surrounding countries. America has committed over a billion dollars to this effort, and today, I can announce that we will be providing an additional $340 million. No aid can take the place of a political resolution that gives the Syrian people the chance to begin rebuilding their country – but it can help desperate people survive.
Middle East and North Africa
             Just as significantly, the convulsions in the Middle East and North Africa have laid bare deep divisions within societies, as an old order is upended, and people grapple with what comes next. Peaceful movements have been answered by violence – from those resisting change, and from extremists trying to hijack change. Sectarian conflict has reemerged. And the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction casts a shadow over the pursuit of peace.  
             The crisis in Syria, and the destabilization of the region, goes to the heart of broader challenges that the international community must now confront. How should we respond to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa – conflicts between countries, but also conflicts within them? How do we address the choice of standing callously by while children are subjected to nerve gas, or embroiling ourselves in someone else’s civil war? What is the role of force in resolving disputes that threaten the stability of the region and undermine all basic standards of civilized conduct? What is the role of the United Nations, and international law, in meeting cries for justice?
             Now, to say these are America’s core interests is not to say these are our only interests. We deeply believe it is in our interest to see a Middle East and North Africa that is peaceful and prosperous; and will continue to promote democracy, human rights, and open markets, because we believe these practices achieve peace and prosperity. But I also believe that we can rarely achieve these objectives through unilateral American action – particularly with military action. Iraq shows us that democracy cannot be imposed by force. Rather, these objectives are best achieved when we partner with the international community, and with the countries and people of the region.
             When peaceful transitions began in Tunisia and Egypt, the entire world was filled with hope. And although the United States – like others – was struck by the speed of transition, and did not – in fact could not – dictate events, we chose to support those who called for change. We did so based on the belief that while these transitions will be hard, and take time, societies based upon democracy and openness and the dignity of the individual will ultimately be more stable, more prosperous, and more peaceful. 
             Over the last few years, particularly in Egypt, we’ve seen just how hard this transition will be. Mohammed Morsi was democratically elected, but proved unwilling or unable to govern in a way that was fully inclusive. The interim government that replaced him responded to the desires of millions of Egyptians who believed the revolution had taken a wrong turn, but it too has made decisions inconsistent with inclusive democracy – through an emergency law, and restrictions on the press, civil society, and opposition parties.
             Of course, America has been attacked by all sides of this internal conflict, simultaneously accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, and engineering their removal from power. In fact, the United States has purposely avoided choosing sides. Our over-riding interest throughout these past few years has been to encourage a government that legitimately reflects the will of the Egyptian people, and recognizes true democracy as requiring a respect for minority rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, and a strong civil society.
             That remains our interest today. And so, going forward, the United States will maintain a constructive relationship with the interim government that promotes core interests like the Camp David Accords and counter-terrorism. We will continue support in areas like education that benefit the Egyptian people. But we have not proceeded with the delivery of certain military systems, and our support will depend upon Egypt’s progress in pursuing a democratic path. 
            I know that some now criticize the action in Libya as an object lesson. They point to problems that the country now confronts – a democratically-elected government struggling to provide security; armed groups, in some places extremists, ruling parts of a fractured land – and argue that any intervention to protect civilians is doomed to fail. No one is more mindful of these problems than I am, for they resulted in the death of four outstanding U.S. citizens who were committed to the Libyan people, including Ambassador Chris Stevens – a man whose courageous efforts helped save the city of Benghazi. But does anyone truly believe that the situation in Libya would be better if Qadhafi had been allowed to kill, imprison, or brutalize his people into submission? It is far more likely that without international action, Libya would now be engulfed in civil war and bloodshed.
            In Kenya, we’ve seen terrorists target innocent civilians in a crowded shopping mall. In Pakistan, nearly 100 people were recently killed by suicide bombers outside a church. In Iraq, killings and car bombs continue to be a horrific part of life. Meanwhile, al Qaeda has splintered into regional networks and militias, which has not carried out an attack like 9/11, but does pose serious threats to governments, diplomats, businesses and civilians across the globe. 
Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process
            I have made clear that the United States will never compromise our commitment to Israel’s security, nor our support for its existence as a Jewish state. Earlier this year, in Jerusalem, I was inspired by young Israelis who stood up for the belief that peace was necessary, just, and possible, and I believe there is a growing recognition within Israel that the occupation of the West Bank is tearing at the democratic fabric of the Jewish state. But the children of Israel have the right to live in a world where the nations assembled in this body fully recognize their country, and unequivocally reject those who fire rockets at their homes or incite others to hate them.
            Likewise, the United States remains committed to the belief that the Palestinian people have a right to live with security and dignity in their own sovereign state. On the same trip, I had the opportunity to meet with young Palestinians in Ramallah whose ambition and potential are matched by the pain they feel in having no firm place in the community of nations. They are understandably cynical that real progress will ever be made, and frustrated by their families enduring the daily indignity of occupation. But they recognize that two states is the only real path to peace: because just as the Palestinian people must not be displaced, the state of Israel is here to stay.
            The time is now ripe for the entire international community to get behind the pursuit of peace. Already, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have demonstrated a willingness to take significant political risks. President Abbas has put aside efforts to short-cut the pursuit of peace and come to the negotiating table. Prime Minister Netanyahu has released Palestinian prisoners, and reaffirmed his commitment to a Palestinian state. Current talks are focused on final status issues of borders and security, refugees and Jerusalem.
            Now the rest of us must also be willing to take risks. Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon the realization of a Palestinian state. Arab states – and those who have supported the Palestinians – must recognize that stability will only be served through a two-state solution with a secure Israel. All of us must recognize that peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists, and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future. Moreover, ties of trade and commerce between Israelis and Arabs could be an engine of growth and opportunity at a time when too many young people in the region are languishing without work. So let us emerge from the familiar corners of blame and prejudice, and support Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are prepared to walk the difficult road to peace.

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Khatami: Diplomacy now unrivaled chance

            Former President Mohammad Khatami has called on the international community to engage in dialogue with his successor to solve longstanding tensions and avoid even greater tension in the volatile Middle East that threatens “global catastrophe.” In an op-ed in The Guardian newspaper, the reformist leader called the current moment an “unrivaled and possibly unrepeatable opportunity.”

      Khatami said new President Hassan Rouhani makes his diplomatic debut at the United Nations with the full backing of the Supreme Leader—which Khatami often struggled to maintain during his own troubled presidency. Khatami also said Rouhani’s message of “hope and prudence” enjoys “widespread support from almost all segments of Iranian society.” The op-ed was published on September 23, the eve of Rouhani’s first speech to the U.N. General Assembly. The following are excerpts.
            At my suggestion, 2001 was named the UN Year of Dialogue Among Civilisations. But despite reaching a global audience, the message of dialogue barely penetrated the most intractable political dilemmas, either at home or abroad…. President Rouhani's platform of prudence and hope is a practical translation of the idea of dialogue among nations into the realm of politics. And this is more necessary than ever at a time when a range of overlapping political crises are threatening global catastrophe.
            With the initiative of Rouhani, who enjoys widespread support from almost all segments of Iranian society, I hope this country will succeed in steering a path towards global dialogue.
            The opportunity to diplomatically resolve differences between Iran and the West, including the impasse over the nuclear issue, presented itself many years ago during my presidency. That opportunity was missed…
            President Rouhani's government was elected by a society seeking positive change, at a time when Iran and the wider region was desperately in need of prudence and hope. This vote was not limited to a specific political camp; as well as many reformers, many political prisoners and a significant body of conservatives had a share in Rouhani's victory. For the first time there is an opportunity to create a national consensus above and beyond partisan factionalism – one that may address the political predicaments of the country, with an emphasis on dialogue and mutual understanding globally.
            Explicit public support from the supreme leader of the Islamic republic provides Rouhani and his colleagues with the necessary authority for a diplomatic resolution of a number of foreign policy issues with the west, not just the nuclear issue. A peace-seeking Iran can contribute as a willing partner not only to solving its own differences with the global powers, but also to overcoming some of the region's chronic political disputes. But it requires a degree of courage and optimism from the west to listen to the voices of the Iranian people who have been painfully targeted by unjust sanctions, which have threatened the very fabric of civil society and democratic infrastructures.
            Failure now to create an atmosphere of trust and meaningful dialogue will only boost extremist forces on all sides. The consequences of such a failure will be not only regional, but global. For a better world – for the Iranian people and the next generation across the globe – I earnestly hope that Rouhani will receive a warm and meaningful response at the United Nations.
            Iran today is different from the Iran of years ago, and the consequences of the Islamic revolution are still playing out. Our positive and negative experiences of the past 16 years have added another dimension to the reforms that Rouhani is conducting at both domestic and international levels; they have enriched the Islamic republic's democratic capacities and added, I very much hope, to the experience of the international community.
            The Iranian people's vote for Rouhani and his agenda for change has provided an unrivalled and possibly unrepeatable opportunity for Iran, the west and all local and regional powers. With a foreign policy based on dialogue and diplomacy at the heart of the Middle East, we can imagine a better world for the east and the west – including the diplomatic resolution of Iran's nuclear issue, which is utterly feasible if there is goodwill and fairness.

Zarif Pens Diary About U.S. Visit

            In an all-time first for Iranian diplomacy, new Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif has been chronicling his visit to New York on his Facebook page for Iranians back home. The following translations by USIP's Maral Noori are Zarif's accounts of meetings at the United Nations. Excerpts will be added to this account throughout his visit.

September 19
Hello Friends,
      Around noon yesterday, after a 15-hour flight and a two-hour stopover, I landed in New York and went directly to the United Nations. For those friends who have not travelled to this part of the world, New York is eight-and-one-half hours behind Iran. A good friend and colleague of mine, Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, put on an honorable program that was attended by more than 100 U.N. ambassadors and secretariat officials. It was in the same hall where I held my farewell ceremony six years ago--and this time more of the permanent representatives of Middle East, European, Asian, African, and Latin American countries attended.
            Honestly, the ambassadors showed widespread interest in improved relations with Iran, which I hope will be managed with the best diplomacy. Of course, we must not expect too much. Changes in the international situation require tact, patience and consensus. In this world, the hard-liners are not sitting with nothing to do, and every day they are preparing new issues to disrupt the atmosphere created by Iran’s recent election, which -- to the relief of you nice people – is a message about interacting with the world with an emphasis on Iran’s self-esteem and national interest.
            I was given a very kind welcome by Ambassador Jan Eliasson, the deputy secretary general of the United Nations, whom I met during the negotiations to end the Iran-Iraq war. Since then, over the past 25 years, I have worked positively with him on various topics, and we spoke of our friendship and respect about our record of collaboration… After this program, we went to the Iranian ambassador’s residence, which had been the residence of my family for five years. We did some coordination regarding my trip and the trip next week of Dr. Rouhani, which was really done while I was between sleep and awake, actually more asleep because it was almost 2 a.m. Tehran time.  The ambassador allowed me to rest for a few hours and prepare for dinner with some of the ambassadors from neighboring countries -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, the United Emirates, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Afghanistan--to be held in the ambassador’s home. I finally got to sleep around 10:30 p.m. New York time – 7 a.m. Tehran time – but sleep was short because of the time difference and insomnia hit me at 2 a.m. Thanks to God, that insomnia provides me a good time to speak to you.
      On Thursday, in addition to a meeting with the editorial board of a popular American newspaper, I will meet with the secretary general and his deputy. On Monday, the General Assembly will begin and, based on the programs given me, I have to attend 10 to 12 ministerial meetings. Monday will be the heaviest meeting day with 14 meetings:  With [European Union foreign policy chief Catherine] Ashton (left) and the foreign ministers of Greece, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Japan, Turkey, Oman, Slovakia, Croatia, Georgia and Bulgaria. However, after the arrival of the president at sunset Monday, I will spend most of the time accompanying him to most of his meetings.
            Thanks for your prayers and, with the help of God, the saints and the Blessed, hopefully we can achieve things worthy of the good people of Iran in the plenary and meetings that will make us worthy of your generosity and kindness. May Allah be with you and watch over you.
5:30 am (2 p.m. in the afternoon on dear Iran’s time)
In New York on Thursday September 19, 2013
September 21
Hello Friends,
            On Thursday and Friday I met with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his deputy Jan Eliasson, the Indonesian foreign minister, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and had separate two-hour briefing sessions with editors and staff of Time magazine and The New York Times. I also had a three-hour meeting with a group of very sweet and proud Iranian activists and research institutions in America, especially dear second- and third-generation Iranian youth, and visited with colleagues in former delegations. The nights have passed slowly due to insomnia from the time difference.
       Both nights we had working dinners at the official U.N. residence. During the first night we met with a group of influential ambassadors to the United Nations from Europe, Asia and Latin America, and the second night with a group of prominent American scholars that, over the past 10 years, have played a prominent role in the enlightenment and confrontation in the war against the Taliban and radicals in America.
            Today and tomorrow is the weekend here, and from morning until night I will meet with prominent intellectuals and former political and civil society activists in America and Europe. In about an hour, I will have a working meeting Mr. Javier Solana, the former European Union foreign policy chief before Catherine Ashton. Then on Sunday evening, my friend of 30 years, Kofi Anan will be present, and then several meetings some foreign ministers and the chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations.  
           The important themes in all these visits: renouncing of nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction; the need to shape the political will in the West to resolve the nuclear issue; the negative effects of sanctions on the livelihoods of people at the same time strengthen their will to resist imposition or violation rights; ways to end the Syrian crisis through negotiations and going to the polls; the dangerous situation in the region; containing the threat of extremism and sectarianism in the region and the globe; condemnation of chemical weapons; necessary pressure on Israel on nuclear and chemical weapons of mass destruction and a future [nuclear] free-zone in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
            Overall they were good conversations, and I am hopeful I will have tangible results for the nation and people. Goodbye until next the virtual meeting.
New York - Saturday 6:30 a.m.
September 23
Hello friends,
            It is 6 a.m in the morning New York-time on Monday. It is about 1:30 p.m. in the afternoon on dear Iran’s time. Clocks here are set back later than in Iran, and for two or three weeks the time difference between New York and Iran is seven-and-one-half hours instead of the usual eight-and-one-half hours.
            I present to you a report from meetings on Saturday and Sunday that were very good and provided a solid foundation for building on important meetings later this week, Allah willing.
            Today’s meetings will begin in nearly two hours. As I said stated to you before, the schedule of appointments is so tight that I cannot even go to the airport to welcome the honorable president of the republic [Hassan Rouhani]…
            Your kind comments and private messages are humbling me. Please allow me to thank each of you one by one. More importantly, I submit a modest prayer to thank you for the honorable president of the republic and other public servants. 
            But in your comments and some stories in the media, I have seen a common thread saying that I may need to submit points to all of you.
           The eleventh government is the government of measure and hope, and as its servant, I am very happy that people are hopeful for this government’s policies. But the field of foreign policy includes sobriety, patience, tact and measured actions that are deliberate and purposeful. You cannot expect accumulated problems to be resolved with one or a couple meetings.
            To reach a route toward successful and sustainable solutions, both parties must be ready for building interaction on an equitable basis, mutual respect and common interests. I am, however, sure that with help of the almighty Allah and His blessings, and because your servants support the wise supreme leader and your honorable people, international actors will be forced to deal effectively with your representatives. With patience, prudence and foresight, we will safeguard the rights, development, progress, and prosperity of you noble people.
            The various meetings with the honorable president of the republic and me are the first steps on this steep path. I, however, have confidence that this difficult and time-consuming road will lead to success with your prayers, patience and support.
However, we must secure the Sharif with patience and prudence and foresight carefully and diligently to safeguard the rights, development, progress and prosperity of you noble people.
Hello friends,
            The meeting with Lady Catherine Ashton [E.U. foreign policy chief] was positive. I explained a conceptual framework and political will to reach a solution for the rights of the Iranian people and the lifting of sanctions. From her interview after the meeting, it is clear she had a positive impression. A meeting of the P5+1 [the United States, China, Britain, France, Germany and Russia] and Iran is planned for Thursday at the ministerial-level and the next meeting is scheduled to be held in mid-October.
September 26
Hello Friends,
            I am very sorry that two to three days have passed and I have not provided you a report of what is going on. It is 6 a.m. on Thursday. I now want to present a brief report, and maybe this upcoming Saturday or Sunday I will have time to write with more detail.
            The Meetings: This year everyone wants to have a meeting with Iran. The meetings of Doctor Rouhani and me, your servant, have continued to be pressed for time.  We have not been able to coordinate many of the meeting requests due to lack of time. Sometimes, even despite my insistence and the dear president’s willingness to participate in all meetings, we must have meetings at the same time and I am not involved in his plans.  We have visited most of the important and effective countries and the visits will continue today and tomorrow.
            The Speech: The speech of the dear president of the republic [to the United Nations] has been welcomed by the political and media. Only the Israeli delegation walked out this year, no one else quit the meeting. During all formal and informal meetings and discussions, all of the Western countries and developing countries described the president’s speech as a turning point. During this year’s speech, overwhelming support of the Palestinian people was expressed (about 95% of speakers will lecture on topics such as Syria and Palestine) and [the president] even described how to deal with the apartheid in Palestine. We did not allow Israel to exploit some of our words our innocent views to blackmail other countries. Israel was, once again, after 8 years, was isolated during the General Assembly… Most heads of the delegations arrived at the meeting hall just before the speech and left right after. As I said in parliament, Iran’s capabilities in synergistic ideals and national interests are not in conflict or contention. Opinions expressed in terms of moderation, the speech of Dr. Rouhani was deliberate and purposeful. For this reason, the speech maintained the principle positions of the country, it illustrated the confidence of the people and authorities, and provided a different world view that was not provocative.
            Today, the president will address the General Assembly on disarmament. The president, as chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, will offer a common position, the words of which have been discussed in several Non-Aligned Movement sessions. In other words, more than one hundred other representatives participated in the writing of this speech.
            P5+1 [Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States]: Today the P5+1 and Iran negotiations will be held at the foreign minister level for the first time in eight years. This is a start for showing the political will to move towards resolving the issue at the General Assembly. However, the ministers of P5+1 countries like me, your servant, have busy schedules. This session is not expected to last long nor is a solution likely to be reached at this session. The next meeting is planned for the beginning of Mehr (late October) at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva. However, thanks to Allah and the prayers of you who are blessed, I am hopeful for a good start to reaching a comprehensive solution and a result that hopefully [safeguards] the pride of country and people’s welfare.
            Again, I’m sorry that after a few days delay, I have to discharge from your service. Last night until 11 p.m., we met with key members of American think tanks in the presence of the president. Some of the elite Americans had very positive views. Right now the time is 20 minutes to 7 and at 7:15 p.m. I have to visit with one of the leading Iranians, a president of one of the important universities in America. The meetings with the ministers will begin at 8 p.m. May Allah watch over all of you, and my eyes are waiting for your blessed prayers.
Photo credits: Javad Zarif via Facebook


New Team to Head Nuclear Talks

            President Hassan Rouhani has appointed Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to lead nuclear talks with two other senior diplomats, according to Iranian news agencies. As Iran’s U.N. ambassador between 2002 and 2007, Zarif gained a reputation among his European and U.S. counterparts for being less ideological and more pragmatic than other Iranian diplomats. The other two envoys are Abbas Araghchi, deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs, and Majid Takht Ravanchi, deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs.
            In early September, Zarif said that members of previous negotiating teams would also be asked to join the new team. He said the team’s goals would be “safeguarding the achievements of Iranian nuclear scientists, protecting the people’s rights in the nuclear field, and removing the international community’s concerns,” according to Fars News Agency.
            Four other members will join the team, including a representative from Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization and one from the Supreme National Security Council. In the past, the national security adviser led talks with the world’s six major powers — the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. Zarif’s predecessor was Saeed Jalili, an ally of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was widely seen as dogmatic and undiplomatic by his interlocutors.
            The following are profiles of the three diplomats named to lead the new negotiating team.

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Mohammad Javad Zarif
      Born in 1960, Zarif was Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations from 2002 to 2007. He is widely regarded as one of Iran’s most savvy diplomats. Zarif served as deputy U.N. ambassador from 1989 to 1992 and then as deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs until 2002.
      Zarif has been involved in both formal and informal talks with the United States. In 2001, he was Iran’s emissary to U.N. talks on the future of Afghanistan after the Taliban’s ouster. U.S. envoy James Dobbins credited Zarif with preventing the collapse of the conference due to last-minute demands by the Northern Alliance to control the new government. As an ambassador, Zarif attempted to improve relations with the West, including the United States.
            Zarif speaks English with an American accent after receiving two degrees from San Francisco State University and a doctorate in international relations from the University of Denver.
Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and Int'l Affairs: Abbas Araghchi
      Born in 1962, Araghchi is the deputy minister for legal and international affairs. In 1990, Araghchi entered the foreign ministry and was quickly promoted to charge d’affairs of Tehran’s Organization of the Islamic Conference mission in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In the mid-1990s, Araqchi did graduate work on politics and government at the U.K. University of Kent at Canterbury.
            Araqchi then returned to Iran and held senior positions at the Institute for Political and International Studies, a foreign ministry think tank. Between 1999 and 2013, Araqchi held several senior and ambassador-level positions in the foreign ministry. He served as ambassador to Estonia, Finland and Japan. In May 2013, Araqchi was appointed foreign ministry spokesman. He reportedly speaks English.
Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs: 
Majid Takht Ravanchi
      Born in 1958, Ravanchi is deputy minister for European and American affairs. He earned two civil engineering degrees from the University of Kansas in the early 1980s, according to his official curriculum vitae. He then returned to Iran and entered the foreign ministry in 1986. Ravanchi reportedly earned a master’s degree from Fordham University while serving as counselor at Iran’s U.N. mission in New York.
      In 1992, Ravanchi was appointed deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, a position he held until 1998. He served as a special assistant to the foreign minister before his 2002 appointment as ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein. In 2009, he took a break from diplomatic work and served as deputy director of the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Political Islam. He returned to the foreign ministry in 2013. Ravanchi reportedly speaks English, French and German.
Photo credits: Javad Zarif via Facebook, Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs mfa.ir

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