Israel on ‘Moderate’ Iran President: Watch Actions, Not Words

Really moderate, or just for show? Iranian President Rouhani. Illustrative. FEMA/Marty Bahamonde.

Really moderate, or just for show? Iranian President Rouhani. Illustrative. FEMA/Marty Bahamonde.

Iran has a new president—Hassan Rouhani—who is presenting himself as rejecting extremism. Before the world gets too excited about Iran electing a “moderate,” however, Israel has a warning: It’s actions that count, not what they say. Considering nuclear weapons and global terrorism are in play here, the risk of accepting Iran too quickly is enormous.

“Fifteen years ago, the election of another president, also considered a moderate by the West, led to no change in these aggressive policies,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “…Iran will be judged by its actions. If it continues to insist on developing its nuclear program, the answer needs to be very clear—stopping the nuclear program by any means.”

The BBC quoted Rouhani as saying in a statement that his election “is a victory for wisdom, moderation and maturity… over extremism.” Extremism has certainly defined Iran in recent years, especially as they are currently under a wide range of sanctions for defying the world in their nuclear program.

While Rouhani’s apparent rejection of extremism might offer hope of change in Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Netanyahu noted that Iran’s nuclear policy won’t be set by President Rouhani.

“The ruler of Iran is the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Khamenei], not the president, and it is he who determines nuclear policy,” Netanyahu said in comments released by his office. “The more the pressure on Iran increases, the greater is the chance of stopping the Iranian nuclear program, which remains the greatest threat to world peace.”

For you, the there is potential good news in the election of Rouhani, because it could indicate that Iran is willing to curb some of its extremist behavior. This would bring some stability to the Middle East and it’s oil prices and could lead to a reduction in world terrorism.

On the other hand, if the world blindly accepts Rouhani and gives Iran a free “fresh start,” it could lead to Iran being able to make more progress in it’s dangerous nuclear program while the world sits still and watches again.

That’s why Netanyahu offered a cold splash of reality after the Iranian election. No matter how much Rouhani says he’s moderate what really matters is what Iran does.

“Regarding the results of the elections in Iran, let us not delude ourselves,” said Netanyahu. “The international community must not become caught up in wishes and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, June 16, 2013)


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