Iran’s new President Hasan Rouhani delivers a speech after his swearing-in at the parliament in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, August 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
President Obama could have been more effusive in welcoming the start of Hassan Rouhani’s term as president of Iran. But it could have been worse, too. Regardless, we should find out over the next few months if Iran and the United States can work out a deal that includes, at the minimum, Iran’s nuclear program—but which could extend to Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, too. Diplomacy, however, will take many months, if not years.
Here’s the full text of the White House statement on Rouhani’s taking over from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
On the occasion of Dr. Hojjatoleslam Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration today as the Islamic Republic of Iran’s seventh president, we again congratulate the Iranian people for making their voices heard during Iran’s election. We note that President Rouhani recognized his election represented a call by the Iranian people for change, and we hope the new Iranian government will heed the will of the voters by making choices that will lead to a better life for the Iranian people. The inauguration of President Rouhani presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community’s deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. Should this new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue, it will find a willing partner in the United States.
You’ll note that the statement is not in President Obama’s name, just issued as a generic White House comment. (Obama didn’t bother to congratulate the apparently deal-seeking, moderate Rouhani on the occasion of his election on June 14, either.)
The Guardian, and others, chose to characterize the White House statement as an “olive branch,” though it’s really more like an olive twig. But The Guardian hastens to add that the hawks, including those in Congress, are ignoring the whole transition in demanding more sanctions and a tough military posture. Said The Guardian:
But the apparent olive branch comes amid hawkish calls in Washington for tougher sanctions on Tehran and the possibility of military action if no resolution is found. In a letter sent to President Barack Obama, 76 senators demanded tougher economic punishment for Iran until the Islamic republic scales back its nuclear ambitions. It also urged Obama to keep all options on the table, while keeping the door open to diplomacy.