AIPAC warns on Iranian president-elect Rohani

Israel lobby says Ahmadinejad replacement “has signaled no willingness to halt Iran’s illicit nuclear program”.

By JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
June 19, 2013 23:08
2 minute read.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani [file].

Hassan Rohani 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi RH/CJF/AA)

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 program.”

The powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington said the Iranian people voted for Rohani because they saw him as the best chance for sanctions relief.

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But, “even as Rohani has promised better relations with the West, he has also strongly backed the continuation of Iran’s nuclear program,” the group said.

“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.”

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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 activities.”

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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