WASHINGTON – In a memo to supporters, the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee expressed deep suspicion of Iranian President-Elect Hassan Rohani,
saying that he “has signaled no willingness to halt Iran’s illicit nuclear
The powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington said the Iranian
people voted for Rohani because they saw him as the best chance for sanctions
But, “even as Rohani has promised better relations with the West,
he has also strongly backed the continuation of Iran’s nuclear program,” the
“More fundamentally,” the memo continued, “there is no
indication that Supreme Leader Khamenei will limit his absolute control over
Iran’s nuclear policy. Even if Rohani wished to change the country’s policy, he
may have no ability to do so.”
Pointing to a speech Rohani delivered in
March 2006, in which he spoke of progressing the country’s nuclear program while
Western powers believed Iran had frozen enrichment activity during negotiations,
AIPAC said the international community has spent the last decade negotiating
with Iran “with nothing to show for the effort.”
The group encourages the
maintenance of a strong military presence in the Persian Gulf and an increase in
pressure through sanctions on the Islamic Republic, providing relief “only after
Tehran takes concrete positive steps to halt its nuclear
Leaders on foreign policy in the Senate share AIPAC’s
assessment of Rohani’s victory, congressional sources told The Jerusalem Post,
and expect a new sanctions bill to progress unabated.
Language for the
Senate bill is expected to be completed in the next month, while matching
legislation in the House of Representatives will likely see a vote before the
July 4 recess. The new bill will aim to close currency loopholes and bring
Iranian oil exports down to zero.
American Jewish Committee executive
director David Harris said at the end of the day, proof of change in Iranian
policies will come from deeds.
“Let’s not forget that those who ran for
the presidency, including Rohani, had to be approved by the ruling mullahs,
meaning pass muster ideologically.
“Will Iran now take steps to cooperate
with the [IAEA] and UN on its nuclear program, when Rohani, an Iranian nuclear
negotiator in the past, showed no flexibility?”
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