Reading Rouhani

Yesterday the Times of Israel staff posted “Rouhani, on Iranian TV in May, detailed how he broke nuclear pledge.” It’s an extremely interesting report in the current context, in which Rouhani is making fools of President Obama and his Team of Nitwits. The Times of Israel report is based on a video that is embedded in the post (below). The post itself is worth reading in its entirety and I urge interested readers to check it out along with the video.

Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg has taken note of the post and observed what is on offer: “Rouhani has revealed his true nuclear intentions.” Goldberg explains:

[I]n May, shortly before he was elected, Rouhani appeared on state-run IRIB TV to defend his nuclear work, appearing defensive as a hard-line interviewer essentially accused him of bowing before the West. We may one day thank the interviewer, Hassan Abedini, for pushing Rouhani on the subject. According to an account of the conversation published in the Times of Israel, Rouhani at one point became flustered by the insinuation that, as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator 10 years ago, he kowtowed to the West by bringing his country’s nuclear activities to a stop.

“We halted the nuclear program?” he asked, rhetorically. “We were the ones to complete it! We completed the technology.”

Abedini pushed Rouhani harder, claiming that uranium enrichment at a facility in Isfahan had been suspended while Rouhani was in charge. Rouhani denied the accusation, and then claimed credit for the development of a heavy-water reactor in Arak in 2004.

“Do you know when we developed yellowcake? Winter 2004. Do you know when the number of centrifuges reached 3,000? Winter 2004.”

Reading accounts of Rouhani’s combative interview made me wonder if this might represent his personal Hudaybiyyah moment. What is a Hudaybiyyah moment? The moment when a mask slips.

You think? Take a look at the video for yourself.

Goldberg concludes: “It’s obviously worth testing Rouhani’s intentions through intensive diplomacy and negotiations, but it’s vital to conduct this test while paying careful attention to what he’s saying at home.”

“Intensive diplomacy and negotiations” sounds to me like more of the same, only worse, with the Obama administration pleading with Congress to delay additional sanctions in favor of “confidence building,” but at least Goldberg does not have his eyes wide shut.

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