The Interview That Should Give You Hope For U.S.-Iran Relations
In an interview with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani on NBC, the newly elected leader's tone shifted away from the antagonistic style of former president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. Rouhani shared a conciliatory message by pledging that he doesn't want war and desires to engage in open talks with President Obama. Rouhani's overall message in the interview is consistent with the overtures he has made in the months since being elected to the presidency in June.
The only similarity between Rouhani and his predecessor is his enmity towards the Israeli government. Rouhani's display of such resentment, however, is more demure. Responding to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remark that Rouhani was nothing more than "a wolf in sheep's clothing," Rouhani hit back, claiming that the Israeli government "does injustice to the people of the region, and has brought instability to the region, with its warmongering policies."
On the nuclear front, Rouhani pledged that Iran has no intention of developing nuclear weapons, and said that he has "complete authority" to complete any deal, assuaging concerns that he must get approval from Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The supreme leader noted on Tuesday that flexibility is necessary for any progress to be made, a rare conceit. Rouhani also praised a letter he had received from Obama regarding the issue, calling it "positive and constructive."
On other issues, Rouhani offered hints that Iran would be willing to open itself up to the West, particularly with regards to internet freedom. The prime minister said that a commission for citizens' rights would be created and that "people must have full access to all information worldwide."
"We want the people, in their private lives, to be completely free, and in today's world having access to information and the right of free dialogue, and the right to think freely, is the right of all peoples, including the people of Iran," he continued.
The White House has also emitted positive signals towards Tehran ahead of a potential meeting at the United Nations General Assembly next week, saying the U.S. is open to a direct exchange between the two leaders. This is a positive step being made by both governments that will hopefully usher in a new era of constructive dialogue and successful negotiations.