Obama Throws Cold Water on Rouhani

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You need to have exposure to “diplomacy-speak” to see that Obama’s latest statement on Iran, issued by his press secretary Jay Carney, has nothing new in it and, in fact, indicates the same old hard line position: “You make concessions, you do what we say, and then maybe we can talk.” I realize that the statement doesn’t sound that way on the surface:

“‘Should this new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue, it will find a willing partner in the United States,’ spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement soon after Rouhani’s inauguration in Tehran.

“‘The inauguration of President Rouhani presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community’s deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear program,’ he added.”

This says that up to now Iran hasn’t engaged substantively and seriously, which means it has insisted on its rights and a quid pro quo and it has not buckled to the U.S. It says, if you buckle, then we’re your partner. It continues to talk about Iran’s “nuclear program” when there isn’t an illegal weapons program but a legal production under international treaty. It wants Iran to act, and says nothing about the U.S. sanctions or demands. It offers no concessions.

It looks to me, so far, that this is simply a gloss so as to say something in response to Rouhani’s election and seemingly recognize the opening it provides while actually not budging an inch from the existing U.S. position. The press is playing it differently than I am, making it sound as if Washington is actually responding favorably. Then, if Iran doesn’t buckle or if its actions don’t satisfy Washington, Obama can blame Iran for being intransigent.

7:08 pm on August 4, 2013