The Iranian delegation arrived at the UN General Assembly in New York this week to an enthusiastic Western welcome led by the Obama administration, without having rescinded one iota of its aggressive policies or nuclear ambitions.
“We welcome an Iran ready to engage seriously through that (diplomatic) process given that it represents the international community’s commitment to hold Iran accountable, but also being open to a diplomatic resolution.”
This convoluted message was how Ben Rhodes, US Deputy National Security Adviser, referred Monday, Sept. 23, to the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s get-together with Iranian Mohammad Javad Zarif Thursday, along with foreign ministers of the five world powers.
Their acclaimed purpose is to test Tehran’s willingness for progress in nuclear negotiations. But before this test, the Obama administration agreed to the highest-level face-to-face contact between the US and Iran since the 1979 Iranian revolution.
Rhodes did not shut the door on a meeting, even a brief one, between President Barack Obama and President Hassan Rouhani at this week’s annual gathering of world leaders in New York.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague and European Union Foreign Executive Catherine Ashton had already met the new Iranian foreign minister Monday, after which Ashton commented that she had found him resolved to go forward with talks (on Iran’s nuclear program) and “many things flow from that.”
How to account for this burst of eagerness in Washington and Europe for a rapprochement with the Revolutionary Republic of Iran?
Has Tehran agreed to give up its nuclear weapon program? The new president and even supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei say their government will never develop a nuclear bomb. So what if they said so? Have their words caused Iran’s nuclear facilities, open and concealed, to suddenly vanish like a desert mirage?
Has Iran announced itself ready to open up all its nuclear facilities to international watchdog inspections? Will Rouhani make this offer when he addresses the UN Assembly Wednesday?
Has Iran promised to stop developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads?
And what about the Islamic Republic’s long sponsorship of state terrorism against Israeli and Jewish targets across the world? Have those death-dealing networks been recalled home?
And has Tehran started pulling its troops out of Syria and terminated its partnership in butchery with Bashar Assad, given up its control of Lebanon or stopped sending rockets to Hizballah?
Has anyone noticed that Iran is building a Red Sea Naval base at Port Sudan facing the coast of Saudi Arabia? Or that a large-scale munitions production and distribution center for supplying Iran’s Middle East allies is going up in Sudan?
And finally, has Iran abandoned its ambition to wipe Israel off the map, or stopped denying the Nazi Holocaust?
The slick new president easily ducked the second question by saying: “I’m not a historian.”
He and members of his regime have suddenly been given free license to fill the op-ed pages of important Western media with smooth propaganda for Western audiences.
But while polishing his civilized aspect towards the West, Rouhani made sure the day before he flew to New York to display Iran’s steel teeth with its largest display ever of missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers. The 30 weapons on show included 12 Sejil and 18 Ghadr missiles which can reach Israel and US Gulf bases - although Rouhani stated with a straight face that they were “for defensive purposes only.”
The turbaned Iranian president has an obvious motive for gulling the West into accepting the Islamic Republic’s conversion from a regime bent on “exporting the Islamic revolution” to a lover of peace: He was elected to end the sanctions crippling the country, without giving up the regime’s objectives.
It is less clear what moves President Obama to swallow the Iranian bait and go for a historic US rapprochement with the revolutionary republic. On every occasion, he protests that Israel’s security is his overriding concern. Yet he is rushing to accept a nuclear Iran whose avowed ambition is to destroy Israel.
Under their slick new façade, the ayatollahs have not changed their spots. Washington has.
Sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu say he is determined to tear the false veil off Iran’s face – even if he is a lone voice, when he addresses the UN later this month.
Last Thursday, Netanyahu tried throwing water on Rouhani’s claims that Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful, calling them fraudulent. He dismissed Iran's offer to engage in diplomacy as false “media spin,” which should not fool anyone.
But no one in the West was listening. And at home, people were asking what happened to Netanyahu’s solemn pre-election pledge to stop Iran attaining a nuclear bomb.