Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has gone on a charm offensive lately with multiple interviews with American media promising collaboration, but a recent video shows he takes pride in deceiving the West.
“Gone is the age of blood feuds,” Rouhani stated in an op-ed in the Washington Post. “World leaders are expected to lead in turning threats into opportunities,” he wrote in the Post Friday.
In interviews with ABC and NBC, Rouhani said that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons and that he has the authority to make a deal with the West. “In its nuclear program, this government enters with full power and has complete authority,” Rouhani said. “Under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever.”
Rouhani, who is one of the most trusted figures of the Islamic regime’s supreme leader, has served the Islamic Republic at the highest levels since the 1979 revolution. He has been the deputy speaker of Parliament, the head of the Executive Committee of the High Council for War Support during the Iran-Iraq War, the deputy to the second-in-command of Iran’s joint chiefs of staff, a member of the Expediency Council, a member of the Assembly of Experts (the body that chooses the supreme leader), a former nuclear negotiator, and, most importantly, the representative of the supreme leader to the Supreme National Security Council since 1989.
Despite the recent charm offensive in the American media, a recently revealed video of an interview prior to the June Iranian election shows him bragging how he, in his role as Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, deceived the West during negotiations on Iran’s illicit nuclear program even as Iran expanded its nuclear power. At the same time, Rouhani managed to relieve pressure by the West, especially in convincing the Europeans to avert possible military aggression by the Bush administration.
“The day that we invited the three European ministers [to the talks], only 10 centrifuges were spinning at [the Iranian nuclear facility of] Natanz,” Rouhani boasted on the tape. “We could not produce one gram of U4 or U6 [uranium hexafluoride]. … We did not have the heavy-water production. We could not produce yellow cake. Our total production of centrifuges inside the country was 150.”
But then Rowhani admitted in the video the purpose of prolonging negotiations: “We wanted to complete all of these — we needed time.”
He said the three European ministers promised to block U.S. efforts to transfer the Iran nuclear dossier to the United Nations, using veto power if necessary. He called Iran’s claim that it stopped its nuclear program in 2003 a statement for the uneducated and admitted that the program not only continued, but was significantly expanded under his tenure.
While President George W. Bush was increasing pressure on Iran in 2007, a report by American intelligence agencies concluded that Iran halted its nuclear program in 2003 and that the program had remained frozen since.
In the interview, Rouhani said that after he took over the country’s nuclear project, the country’s 150 centrifuges grew to over 1,700 by the time he left the project.
Then Rouhani made his boldest statement: “We did not stop; we completed the program.”
He said that Iran’s nuclear activity was under the supervision of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and that he, as Khamenei’s representative, was to ensure this deceit.
Keyhan newspaper, which the supreme leader directly supervises, published a column Wednesday that quoted an informed source: “Despite the noise by the Western media, Iran will not present any new proposal in New York [to the United Nations General Assembly] and only expects new proposals from its counterparts.”
In another column published on Irannuc.ir, which represents the Islamic regime’s official views on the nuclear program, Mohammad Mohammadi, an Iranian international affairs and nuclear program expert, stated that the Rouhani administration is trying to separate President Obama from the hardliners in America in an effort to get the American president to show flexibility toward Iran.
Rouhani is due to arrive in the U.S. Sunday and address the United Nations next week. He is set on a campaign blitz to charm the American media and possibly shake hands with Obama at the United Nations.
White House spokesman Jay Carney commented on a possible meeting between the two: “It’s possible, but it has always been possible,” Carney said. “The extended hand has been there from the moment the president was sworn in.”
Despite several U.N. resolutions and sanctions by the U.N., U.S. and E.U. demanding a halt to Iran’s illicit nuclear program, the Islamic regime has significantly expanded the program and currently has over 10,000 centrifuges spinning, with enough enriched uranium for more than six nuclear bombs, while at the same time is set to complete its heavy-water plant, which would give the regime a second path to nuclear weapons by acquiring weapons-grade plutonium.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray“ (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).