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WHAT OBAMA SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ROUHANI

Menashe Amir: 'Not Even Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Can Stop Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program Now - Khamenei is Dependent on Powerful Revolutionary Guards who Want to Continue'

'President Elect Hassan Rouhani Will Seek Easing Of Sanctions, But He Alone Has No Authority To Halt Nuclear Project'

'U.S. President Barack Obama Must Stick by His Position that Sanctions Will Not be Lifted Unless Tehran Alters Nuclear Policy & Permits Full IAEA Inspection of All its Nuclear Sites'

Menashe Amir and David Essing at IsraCast Studios (Photo: Tomer Yaffe)

 Menashe Amir, a prominent Israeli expert who was born in Iran, has followed developments closely in that country for some fifty years. Amir has briefed diplomats in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Germany and Austria, as well as lecturing abroad on Iran. In addition, he is often interviewed by the international media.  In light of the surprise election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran's new president, IsraCast analyst, David Essing, interviewed Menashe Amir. 

 Listen to full interview:

 

 Read summary of interview: 

Question: If you were asked to advise U.S. President Barack Obama himself in the White House, and other American officials, what advice would you give on how to react to the election of Hassan Rouhani, what would you tell him? 

 Menashe Amir: First of all, Hassan Rouhani is a Muslim cleric who has played a major role in the Iranian regime. Although he has been educated in Britain and has a PhD from Glasgow University, Rouhani believes Islam is the premier religion in the world. He supports Iran's Islamist regime and its drive to acquire nuclear weapons. However, Rouhani has drawn the conclusion that Tehran must not continue its confrontational policy that has aroused the U.S. and the West to impose crippling sanctions which are devastating Iran's economy. Look for him to try and influence Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to approve some changes to ease the intense international pressure that the regime is finding it harder to endure. As president, Rouhani does not have the authority or capability to make changes in nuclear policy that can affect the sanctions and lead to a subsequent improvement in Iran's economy. Therefore, when Rouhani talks of 'reforms and moderation' he believes this will actually strengthen the regime of the Ayatollahs. 

 Question: But at his first news conference, Rouhani also spoke of greater 'transparency' for Iran's nuclear program? 

 Amir: What does Rouhani mean by 'transparency'? Would he be willing to permit IAEA monitors to inspect all of Iran's nuclear facilities whenever they want? The answer is no! It must be understood that the Iranian regime is very dangerous, not only for the Middle East but the entire world. The Iranians have lied to the international community about their nuclear program, and because they lied that must halt their nuclear activity. That's the reason the UN Security Council imposed the sanctions in the first place. 

 Look, some eight or nine years ago, the IAEA asked Iran some questions about the military aspects of their nuclear program. Until now there has been no answer. Does Rouhani's transparency mean that Iran will now supply the answers? I don't think so. 

 Question: But hasn't Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Iran will limit its uranium enrichment to 20%? (93% is required for producing nuclear weapons, but once 20% is achieved it can be further enriched to 93%. The IAEA reported recently that Iran already has over half the quantity of 20% enriched uranium that could be upgraded for one A-bomb. DE).

 Amir: I would like to ask Mr. Lavrov who authorized him to say so - who was the Iranian official who told him to speak for Iran? The Iranian government has its own spokesmen and I would like to hear it from the Iranians. At his news conference, Rouhani himself stated that Iran will not stop its uranium enrichment. I'm glad President Obama has stressed that the sanctions will not be eased as long as Iran has not taken any reaction in this regard. 

 Question: In order to improve the standard of living for the Iranian people, Rouhani must persuade the UN Security Council to ease the sanctions and that means getting Supreme Leader Khamenei to give way on the nuclear program. How is Rouhani to square that circle? 

 Amir: That's the most important question. I expect Rouhani will tell Khamenei that the state coffers are nearly empty and soon it will not even be possible to provide basic commodities for the people. But even Khamenei cannot change the nuclear policy by himself. Khamenei is very dependent on the Revolutionary Guards - their raison d'etre is based on the continuation of the nuclear program. The commander of the Revolutionary Guards has already criticized Rouhani for his remarks at that first news conference. So Rouhani's problem is twofold - not only to convince Khamenei, but also the Revolutionary Guards, to halt the nuclear weapons program. And without altering nuclear policy there will be no easing of sanctions and then there is no way the regime can improve the economy. On his own, Rouhani has no authority, and is incapable of resolving these grave problems. 

 Question: Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon have taken a dim view of Rouhani's election and urged the international community not to ease the sanctions, but rather to stiffen them. What do you think? 

 Amir: I think they are right. The dilemma is how to convince Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program. The only way is to put bigger pressure on Tehran and threaten its economy with total collapse. What is likely to happen now is that after Rouhani is installed as president in another forty days, the Western countries will give him at least another six months to see if Iran has changed its nuclear policy or not. The Iranians will buy more time, and Rouhani will lead the nuclear talks on and on. This will give the regime more opportunity to continue the nuclear program. Add to that the expressions of 'cautious optimism' in some Western countries over Rouhani's election. This is the problem. Clearly the U.S. and the West do not want a military confrontation with Iran. 

 Let me say that I have been in contact with some people inside Iran and they told me that Rouhani's election was a victory for Netanyahu and Israel. And why was that? Because a majority of the voters showed they did not want the nuclear weapons program. 

 

David Essing

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