IMAGE: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif with British Foreign William Hague on Monday

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2100 GMT: Rouhani Addresses UN General Assembly

President Rouhani has begun his address to the UN General Assembly with a call for “moderation” over “extremism”, with his election an example of the “wise choice of hope” of Iranians seeking “stability” in a “region of instabilities”.

Rouhani refers to a “few actors” pursuing “archaic” approaches of force, but does not name any of them — although he does criticize the persistence of a “Cold War mentality” of “superior us” and “inferior others”.

In an allusion to Syria, he also criticizes the pursuit of “regime change”. He continues with a long condemnation of “hegemonic powers”.

The President cites the support of those with “chemical weapons” — a reference to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — and of Al Qa’eda as an example of that misguided hegemony. There are also mentions of “terrorist bombings” and the “oppression of Palestinians”.

Turning to Syria, Rouhani denounces the “infusion of weapons” and the “support of extremists” and calls for a condemnation of chemical weapons, including the “access by terrorist groups to such weapons”.

The President throws in a castigation of drones and has a passage on the “criminal assassination” of Iranian nuclear scientists before hitting sanctions with a reference to Iraqis who suffered in the last 20 years.

Then it’s back to a beating of “violence” and “extremism” before a long passage on “tolerance” and elevating human society to “collective collaboration”.

Rouhani assures, “Iran seeks to solve problems, not create them”, as an introduction to the call for recognition of “Iran’s inalienable right to nuclear energy”.

He declares, “Not withstanding the objectives of others” — i.e., Israel — that nuclear weapons have no place in “Iran’s doctrine”. He assures that Iran has no hostile intentions towards the US.

Referring to President Obama’s speech, Rouhani hopes Obama will “avoid the pressures of war-mongering groups” and show “mutual respect” and adhere to “principles of international law”.

In what may be his grandstand flourish, Rouhani calls for all to join a “World Against Violence and Extremism”.

He cites the famous Iranian poet Ferdowsi, “Be relentless in striving for the cause of good.”

The close is a reference to the Koran and the Bible — and the Torah — about “virtue”.

Summary of Obama Address to UN General Assembly

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, President Obama has called for a diplomatic resolution while blaming the Iranian regime for past failure in talks over its nuclear programme.

In his one substantive remark, Obama confirmed that Secretary of State John Kerry will be meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and representatives of the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia), probably on Thursday in New York:

Statements made by our respective governments should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement. We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful. To succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable. After all, it is the Iranian government’s choices that have led to the comprehensive sanctions that are currently in place. This isn’t simply an issue between America and Iran – the world has seen Iran evade its responsibilities in the past, and has an abiding interest in making sure that Iran meets its obligations in the future.

We are encouraged that President Rouhani received from the Iranian people a mandate to pursue a more moderate course. Given President Rouhani’s stated commitment to reach an agreement, I am directing John Kerry to pursue this effort with the Iranian government, in close coordination with the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China.

Obama, in a nod to hard-liners, also held out the possibility of tougher action if there was no resolution:

The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested. For while the status quo will only deepen Iran’s isolation, Iran’s genuine commitment to go down a different path will be good for the region and the world, and will help the Iranian people meet their extraordinary potential – in commerce and culture; in science and education.

Latest Updates, From Top to Bottom

US Officials: “Iran Declined Invitation for Obama-Rouhani Meeting”

White House officials are telling journalists that they offered to have “an encounter” between Presidents Obama and Rouhani at the United Nations, but the Iranians declined.

“It is too complicated for the Iranians to do at this point,” senior US administration officials told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

Exclusive: Why Rouhani Skipped UN Secretary-General’s Lunch

We are still awaiting President Rouhani’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly. In the meantime….

Rumors of an encounter between Rouhani and President Obama at United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s lunch never turned into fact on Tuesday. Indeed, Rouhani never made it.


According to Press TV in a “Breaking” newsflash, “Iran President Hassan Rouhani has skipped a United Nations lunch banquet because alcohol was served.”

Reformist Newspaper Resumes Publication

The reformist daily newspaper Ham-mihan has resumed publication.

The paper is owned by Gholamhossein Karbaschi, former Mayor of Tehran and ally of former President Mohammad Khatami, and edited by Mohammad Ghouchani.

Supreme Leader’s Advisors: Our Warplanes Are Better Than Yours

President Rouhani’s “engagement” is not going to stop the declarations of military might, especially from the Revolutionary Guards’ outlet Fars News Agency:

Supreme Leader’s Advisor for Military Affairs General Seyed Reza Pardis said Iran is able to produce a number of weapons and military equipment which are more advanced than their western rivals.

“The Air Force has succeeded in the production of certain weapons and equipment which are more advanced than the western models,” Pardis told FNA on Monday.

“The path paved by the Air Force towards self-sufficiency is highly valuable and production of airplanes, (jet) engines and designing planes were some heavy and high-class projects in which we have succeeded,” he added.

Fars also has this proclamation from the Supreme Leader’s Senior Advisor, Yahya Rahim Safavi:

The message of our Armed Forces is defensive preparedness and effective deterrence, might and power.

The Americans and the Zionists who are our arch foes have found out the essence of this message. The experience of Iraq and Afghanistan has cost them so dearly, while Iran is different from Iraq and Afghanistan (in its power).

Tuesday Summary

Tuesday’s headlines can be anticipated, as President Rouhani addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Only five months ago, the narrative of Iran’s relations with the “West” was of yet another round of statemated talks on the nuclear issue and of ever-increasing US-led sanctions, complemented by the growing conflict over the Syrian crisis and the aggressive rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmaadinejad.

But on Monday, as the recently-elected President arrived in New York, his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was having productive talks with Catherine Ashton, the lead negotiator for the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China). By the end of the meeting, the two had agreed that Zarif would join leading officials of the 5+1 on Thursday, with the possible attendance of US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Ashton and Zarif also said talks between Tehran and the 5+1 would resume next month in Geneva.

VIDEO: Zarif with British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday

Rouhani, backed by last week’s endorsement from the Supreme Leader, will continue the theme of “engagement” and “dialogue”. There will be no repetition of Ahmadinejad’s harsh remarks about Israel or US responsibility for 9-11, and thus no walk-out by Western delegations.

Instead, we will watch for further signs of diplomatic progress from the speech. As an Iranian engineer told Radio Free Europe:

I’m very hopeful, this is actually the first time in recent years that I feel hopeful and believe that good things can happen.

We’re tired of sanctions and isolation. We’re hoping that Rohani can solve the nuclear issue and improve ties with the U.S. His trip, I think, is a first step.