As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani landed in New York yesterday for the UN General Assembly with the apparent blessing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to solve Iran’s nuclear crisis, Iranian media has begun to speculate over whether Rouhani and US President Barack Obama would meet, or at least run into one another and shake hands.
Many Iranian Reformist publications have favorably covered the meeting between foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and appear to be eagerly anticipating the meeting on Thursday between Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry at a P5+1 ministerial meeting. Reformist newspaper Arman even published a picture of Zarif and Kerry shaking hands (above).
Iran’s hard-liners, however, have attempted to counter this enthusiasm.
Ismail Kosari, a conservative parliament member on the Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that negotiations between America and Iran would not take place.
“If we wanted to negotiate with the Americans we would not have given so many martyrs,” Kosari said. When asked if there is a difference between the United States of 30 years ago and today, he answered that the United States “has become more bloodthirsty.” He said, “Only after confiscated assets are given back, the sanctions removed and they have apologized for the crimes they have committed against Iran, then we can investigate if we will enter talks with them or not.”
In the contentious interview, Kosari said that the “heroic flexibility” praised by Khamenei was only a “tactical” move. He also denied that Rouhani said in an interview with NBC that he has “complete discretion” to solve the nuclear file. Kosari believes that those who want direct US-Iran negotiations are “Reformists who in reality are Americans, and many of them have ran away and have become refugees in America.”
Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces Massoud Jazayeri said in response to the widespread media speculation of a possible thaw in US-Iran relations that the Americans have a “large debt” to pay. Jazayeri believes that in addition to the “blocking of assets, downing a passenger airplane, sanctions, spying and assassinations,” America is the “prime agent” behind the eight-year Iran-Iraq war and a “partner to the crimes and destruction during that era.”
According to Fars News, Jazayeri said that “Those who have set their hearts on America either do not know America or do not know politics.”
On the possible greeting between Rouhani and Obama, Mohammad Imani dismissed the significance of a handshake in Kayhan, which is close to Khamenei.
Imani wrote, “Imagine that while Dr. Rouhani is at the [General Assembly], a taboo is broken and not only does a handshake take place between him and Barack Obama, but they also embrace and kiss. For a few days, headlines and pictures and analysis in media will be spent on this story. Those who for some time have been envious of eating this forbidden fruit will be drowned in excitement for hours. Then what? Say that the clean hands of our president for some moments are in the bloody hands of Obama. Then what have we acquired, and what have we lost? Fundamentally, is the issue between us and America an emotional issue that the excitement over two people, such that a shake and a kiss can renew their emotions, or is the issue deeper?”
Imani wrote that if the Americans were serious about negotiations, they would have accepted the Turkey-Brazil nuclear deal in 2010 instead of sending viruses to their computers and assassinating nuclear scientists.