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Iran

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Index
  1. Iran Main Page
  2. Iran Becomes a Theocracy with Islamic Revolution
  3. U.S. and Iran Sever Ties Amid Hostage Crisis
  4. Khatami Attempts to Liberalize Nation
  5. Iran Taunts World With Nuclear Ambitions
  6. Ahmadinejad Elected President
  7. Iran Continues Progress on Nuclear Technology
  8. Presidential Election Thrusts Iran into Crisis
  9. Leaked Cables Show Arab Countries Wary of Iran
  10. Experts Fear Iran Will Exploit Tumult in Middle East
  11. Advances in Nuclear Program Lead to Additional Sanctions
  12. Relationship with Israel Reaches Critical Point
  13. Centrist Elected President of Iran
  14. President Rouhani Reaches Out to West with a Charm Offensive
  15. Iran Agrees to Scale Back Nuclear Program
President Rouhani Reaches Out to West with a Charm Offensive

In a remarkable turn of events in September, Rouhani followed through on his pledge to thaw relations with the west. In rapid succession, he announced that Iran would never "seek weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons"; released 11 prominent political prisoners; transferred oversight of the country's nuclear program from the conservative—and militarily agressive—national security council to the more moderate foreign ministry; exchanged letters with President Barack Obama; and wished Jews a joyous Rosh Hoshanah. All of these moves reportedly had the backing of Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's supreme religious leader, who wields ultimate power in the country. In an opinion article in the Washington Post on Sept. 20, Rouhani signaled his willingness to engage the international community to forge mutually beneficial relationships. Such diplomacy, he said, means "engaging with one's counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives." He offered to mediate between the Syrian government and the opposition and reiterated that the country intends to pursue nuclear power for peaceful purposes. "Mastering the atomic fuel cycle and generating nuclear power is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation, our demand for dignity and respect and our consequent place in the world."

Rouhani's charm offensive continued on his trip to the U.S., where he addressed the UN General Assembly on Sept. 24. His speech notably lacked the anti-Israel bluster of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and he was careful to refrain from making statements that would raise eyebrows at home or expectations by the West. He repeated his earlier claim that Iran would never seek nuclear weapons but would continue to pursue uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes. He also suggested that the U.S. and Iran could come to agreement on Iran's nuclear program within six months. In another remarkable turn, Rouhani called the Holocaust "reprehensible." The statement further illustrated how Rouhani is steering a markedly different course from Ahmadinejad, who denied the Holocaust on several occasions. Many observers were disappointed that President Obama and Rouhani didn't shake hands at the UN. Still, expectations for future talks and progress on the intractable nuclear issue remain high.

Next: Iran Agrees to Scale Back Nuclear Program
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