Iran Praises US Diplomacy on Iran; Calls for 'Mutual Respect': Obama Continues to Threaten Iran
September 16, 2013 Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Roi Kais / YNet News
Iran's Foreign Minister praised the US for agreeing to the WMD disarmament plan has lifted threat of military strike on Syria and urges Washington to present 'genuine desire for peace and stop using language of threats.' In response, The White House warns that violence, not diplomacy, was still a US option against Iran.
Iran Praises US on Syria Deal, Calls for ‘Mutual Trust' Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 15, 2013) -- Iranian officials have greeted the US-Russian deal on Syria's chemical weapons disarmament with open praise, with parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani saying it was an example of "US rationality."
Iran's new Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif also cheered the deal, saying that he was glad that the apparent threat to military action against Syria has passed, while expressing hopes that it could spark trust-building between the two nations.
Iran's new government has been pushing diplomacy with the US as a primary foreign policy goal, with President Hassan Rohani running on a platform of rapprochement and appointing reformists to his cabinet.
That the US is finally backing off the Syria war (more or less) has raised some hope that the US will be more reasonable in making a deal with Iran, but administration officials seem to be downplaying that so far.
(September 15, 2013) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday in an interview with Lebanese channel Al-Mayadeen, "We are suffering from lack of mutual trust with the US," but stressed that the Islamic Republic was willing to "build trust with the United States" on the issue of the Iranian Hezbollah, that Iran wants the US to "present a genuine desire for peace and stop using the language of threats."
Addressing the threats of a military strike on plan to disarm President Bashar Assad's regime of its chemical weapons, Zarif said "we've passed the critical stage and we hope that the chances of a military operation against Syria have dissipated."
During the interview, the Iranian FM said he had accepted British Foreign Secretary William Hague request to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, which will open in New York at the end of the month.
In an interview on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Obama did not reveal details of the letter exchange, but made clear that US concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions are a "far larger issue for us" than Syria's chemical weapons.
Obama said Iran should avoid thinking that the United States would not launch a military strike in response to Tehran's nuclear program just because it has not attacked Syria.
"They shouldn't draw a lesson that we haven't struck, to think we won't strike Iran," Obama said. "On the other hand, what they should draw from this lesson is that there is the potential of resolving these issues diplomatically."
Tehran denies seeking nuclear weapons but the United States and Israel are working under the assumption that Iran is well along toward developing an atomic weapons program.
Obama's Interview with ABC
Regarded as a relative moderate, Rohani has made conciliatory statements toward Washington since coming to office last month. However, Obama said he doubted Rohani would "suddenly make it easy" to negotiate with the Iranians.
"My view is that if you have both a credible threat of force, combined with a rigorous diplomatic effort, that, in fact you can strike a deal," he said.
White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the United States hopes the Iranian government will engage substantively in order to reach a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue.
"We remain ready to engage with the Rohani government on the basis of mutual respect to achieve a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue," she said.
A few days ago the Los Angeles Times reported that the Obama administration and the new leadership in Iran are communicating about Syria and are moving behind the scenes toward direct talks that both governments hope can ease the escalating confrontation over Tehran's nuclear program.
President Obama reportedly reached out to Iran's relatively moderate president through an exchange of letters in recent weeks, the newspaper said.
According to the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, Obama told Iran he is eager to "turn a new page" in his government's relations with Iran and even said the US would ease the sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The report said Obama communicated his message to the Tehran regime through an emissary, the ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the US-Russia deal on Sunday and stressed his belief that it would have deep repercussions on Iran, Syria's close ally.
"The world needs to ensure that radical regimes don't have weapons of mass destruction because as we have learned in Syria if rogue regimes have weapons of mass destruction they will use them," Netanyahu said during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem.
"The determination the international community shows regarding Syria will have a direct impact on the Syrian regime's patron Iran. Iran must understand the consequences of its continued defiance of the international community by its pursuit toward nuclear weapons," he added.
He said the deal proved that "if diplomacy has any chance to work, it must be coupled with a credible military threat."
Kerry said the agreement, if successful, "will have set a marker for the standard of behavior with respect to Iran and with respect North Korea and any rogue state, (or) group that tries to reach for these kind of weapons."
(September 15, 2013) -- Dragged kicking and screaming into a diplomatic deal with Syria, the Obama Administration is loudly insisting that the fact that reason prevailed in that nation is no reason to expect the same in Iran.
President Obama insisted in an interview with ABC that Iran's civilian nuclear program is a "far larger issue" than Syria's chemical weapons, arguing that the completely civilian program is a greater threat to Israel and therefore important to the US.
Obama went on to say that Iran should take no comfort in the Syrian deal, sticking with the idea that the Russia-brokered deal was only possible because the US keep threatening to attack.
Secretary of State John Kerry is in Jerusalem, and trying to reassure Israel of this policy, forwarding the notion that after being forced back from an unreasonable war in Syria, the unreasonable war in Iran is still on the table.
During the meeting with Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the idea of stripping Syria of chemical weapons, saying it makes the region safer. But shortly before meeting Kerry, Netanyahu was criticizing the pact specifically because it made threatening Iran seem less credible.
A lot of Israeli officials feel that way, and some have even pushed the idea that diplomacy with Syria "proves" the need for Israel to unilaterally attack Iran just to prevent another deal.
The administration's narrative of being capable of recklessly starting ill-conceived wars seems in no small measure aimed at "reassuring" Israeli hawks and keeping them off the warpath, and that so many US hawks (and Obama himself) presented attacking Syria as a chance to really stick it to Iran has inexorably linked the two in many minds.
The simple reality, however, is that Obama didn't voluntarily back away from the Syria War -- he spent weeks trying to sell it and failed. That might be the real, far-reaching consequence of Syria, the reassertion of the American public's ability to stop wars, and that clearly can have an impact on Iran.
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