Israel: Iran's new president will continue nuclear quest

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

Israeli experts continue to caution an erroneously placated West that Iran's new president will press forward with his nation's nuclear arms program. His track record proves as much.

From the US to Europe to Russia, the international community has breathed a collective sigh of relief over the election of Hasan Rohani as Iran's new president, hailing the bearded cleric as a "moderate" leader.

But few seem to remember that Rohani previously served as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator during the term of former President Mohammed Khatami. It's true that between 2003-2005 Rohani halted Iran's uranium enrichment program, but it's also true that he started it right back up again once the immediate threat of US military intervention had passed.

That's right - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not, as many have wrongly come to believe, the originator of Iran's defiant nuclear program. In fact, none of these politicians are more than advisers when it comes to such important matters of state. Iran's nuclear program, and even who gets elected as president, is all ultimately under the control Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini and his Guardian Council.

What that means is that Iran's nuclear program will continue if Khameini says it will, and Rohani has no power to stop it, assuming he even wanted to. And that is a pretty big assumption to make, considering the man's past remarks and actions.

In 2004, Rohani advocated accelerating Iran's nuclear program to the point where the international community would have no choice but to accept it as a fact of life, as had previously happened with Pakistan.

"Rohani is a dyed-in-the-wool Khomeinist and part of the consensus on Iranian nuclear energy, which is a code word for nuclear weapons," explained Ze’ev Maghen, an Iran scholar at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, in an interview with the Times of Israel

Nor is Rohani necessarily any friendlier toward Israel than his predecessor. In his first public address since winning the election, Rohani asserted that international sanctions against Iran had been imposed in service to Israel.

According to Maghen, Rohani is every bit as hostile toward Israel as Ahmadinejad, he simply has better style.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to remind everyone that Rohani had only won the election because the ayatollahs of the Guardian Council had allowed him to, meaning Rohani must, like Ahmadinejad before him, hold views that fall in line with the ayatollahs' agenda.

"We are not deluding ourselves," Netanyahu said at Sunday's cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. "We need to remember that the Iranian ruler at the outset disqualified candidates who were not in line with his extreme world view, and from among those whom he did allow, the one seen as least identified with the regime was elected. But we are still speaking about someone who calls Israel the 'great Zionist Satan.'"

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