Hassan Rouhani is easing into his August 4 inauguration by dismissing Israel as a “miserable” country that makes him “laugh.” The boasts are in line with Rouhani’s status as a “consummate regime insider,” but align uneasily with declarations from corners of the foreign policy and journalistic communities describing him as an engagement-eager “moderate.” The comments were made at a public appearance:
“When some [the United States and Israel] say that all options are on the table and when a miserable regional country [Israel] says such things, it makes you laugh,” Rouhani said in an address to Iran-Iraq war veterans, according to Iranian media reports. “Who are the Zionists to threaten us?” the moderate cleric said, insisting that warnings of an Iranian retaliation had stopped Israel from carrying out its threats to launch strikes on Iran.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph bluntly assessed Rouhani’s stance, describing it as demonstrating “the high basic level of antipathy towards Israel that permeates official Iranian attitudes.”
These and other comments are behind recent commentary from analysts and officials urging caution regarding Rouhani’s intentions in the foreign policy arena. Below is a video of Rouhani in 2004, while serving as nuclear negotiator, boasting of Iran’s ability to circumvent Western limitations while mastering the nuclear-fuel cycle.
Iran’s foreign policy posture is in any case controlled by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has banned concessions by Iranian leaders.
[Photo: Charles Johnson / Youtube]