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June 15, 2014 2:52 pm

Iran’s Rouhani One Year After Election: International Sanctions Futile, Companies Already Signing Contracts

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Iraian President Rouhani at a rally celebrating the 1979 Islamist revolution. Photo: Screenshot.

Iraian President Rouhani at a rally celebrating the 1979 Islamist revolution. Photo: Screenshot.

On the first anniversary of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s appointment, he insisted that the Islamic Republic was poised to outlive the international sanctions on the regime, as foreign companies seek to do business with the oil and natural gas-rich nation.

“The continuation of unfair sanctions against Tehran is impossible and the western firms are now in negotiations (with Iran) and endorsing cooperation contracts with Iran,” Rouhani told South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, in Tehran, on Sunday, according to semi-official state media Fars.

In the words of Fars, Rouhani “said that the incorrect and unfair sanctions system put in place by the West against Iran has cracked and is in trouble now.”

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On the multilateral talks continuing next week in Vienna, Rouhani insisted, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to reach final results in its nuclear talks with the Group 5+1 within the framework of the international laws and regulations.”

But despite the positive remarks, Iran watchers on Sunday said that Rouhani continues to deceive the world by maintaining a hardline stance on key issues, rather than pursue the moderate agenda he promised.

UANI, United Against Nuclear Iran, a watchdog led by Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, said that “Rouhani pledged to follow a ‘path of moderation‘ in both domestic and foreign policy affairs” in his campaign, but after his first year in office, “it is clear that Rouhani has not matched his words with substantive reform or change.”

“In fact, the regime’s policies remain largely unchanged from the days of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency,” UANI said. “For example, the nuclear program continues to advance, Iran’s military intervention to uphold the Assad regime in Syria goes on unabated, and the human rights situation in Iran has deteriorated with a new wave of repression and executions.”

Although tagged as a “reformist” and “moderate,” over the past year, Rouhani has been more correctly described as the “ultimate regime insider,” who “has never been out of power or [Supreme Leader Ayatollah] Khamenei’s good graces,” UANI said, citing news sources.

As Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005, Rouhani laid out his strategy of deception in a seminal speech delivered in 2004 to the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, UANI said, boasting of the “progress Iran made in its nuclear portfolio under his stewardship, including during Iran’s temporary suspension of enrichment activities.”

As the ongoing nuclear talks with world powers appear to be at a standstill, UANI said that “under Rouhani, Iran continues to develop its nuclear program, hold a hard line in negotiations, and stonewall nuclear inspectors.”

“The major stumbling block to reach a final nuclear pact is Iran’s refusal to reduce the size of its industrial-scale enrichment program. In a January interview Rouhani said, ‘In the context of R&D and peaceful nuclear technology, we will not accept any limitations… Not under any circumstances’ would Iran destroy any of its existing centrifuges,” UANI said.

“Iran’s nuclear chief added that the country requires 50,000 centrifuges for its fuel needs. This is 30,000 more centrifuges than Iran currently possesses and much more than the few thousand limit sought by the international community in a final nuclear deal,” it said.

UANI said the IAEA “is no nearer to closing the books on… allegations that Iran worked on nuclear arms in the past,” as Iran has still yet “to go into deeper explanations of its work on detonators that have a variety of uses, including sparking a nuclear explosion.”

As for human rights under the Rouhani regime, UANI pointed to at least 680 executions, an average of more than two per day.

UANI cited a UN report on human rights in Iran that agreed that the human rights situation has not improved under Rouhani: “The new administration has not made any significant improvement in the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and opinion… There have been no improvements in the situation of religious and ethnic minorities, which continue to suffer severe restrictions in the enjoyment of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.”

Meanwhile, Rouhani has not fulfilled his promise to ease Internet restrictions, with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube remaining blocked for Iranian citizens.

As for Iran’s support of President Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime in Syria, Rouhani vowed that relations between the two countries “will not be shaken by any force in the world.” Iran has stepped up support for Assad, “providing elite teams to gather intelligence and train troops.”

UANI also said: “The U.S. Treasury Department revealed that in a perverse double-game, Iran has aided al- Qaeda, by allowing it to facilitate the movement of fighters into Syria. This is part of Iran’s strategy to transform what started as an anti-government uprising against Assad into a full-blown sectarian civil war.”

In his words, UANI said, that Rouhani has made clear his intentions: “Do you know what the Geneva agreement means? It means the surrender of the big powers before the great Iranian nation. The Geneva agreement means the wall of sanctions has broken… It means an admission by the world of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.”

“One hundred per cent [no]” that Iran will dismantle any of its nuclear facilities and, “No matter what interpretations are given, Iran’s right to enrichment has been recognized,” according to UANI.

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