Iran leader preaches ‘moderation,’ with limits

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s newly elected president showcased his reform-leaning image Monday by promising a “path of moderation” that includes greater openness on Tehran’s nuclear program and overtures to Washington. He also made clear where he draws the line: No halt to uranium enrichment and no direct U.S. dialogue without a pledge to stay out of Iranian affairs.

Hasan Rowhani’s first post-victory news conference was a study in what may make his presidency tick.

Rowhani may be hailed as a force for change, but he also appears to carry a deep and self-protective streak of pragmatism. He knows he can only push his views on outreach and detente as far as allowed by the country’s real powers, the ruling clerics and their military protectors, the Revolutionary Guard.

Many of Rowhani’s statements reflected these boundaries, which could later expand or contract depending on how much the theocracy wants to endorse his agenda.

When he appealed to treat “old wounds” with the U.S., he also echoed the ruling clerics’ position that no breakthroughs can occur as long as Washington is seen as trying to undermine their hold on power. Rowhani’s urging for greater “nuclear transparency” as a path to roll back sanctions was also punctuated by a hard-liner stance: No chance to stop the uranium enrichment labs at the heart of the stalemate with the West and its allies.

Rowhani spoke eloquently about a “new era” on the international stage but avoided direct mention of the sweeping crackdowns at home since the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

At the end of the news conference, a spectator — whose identity was not immediately known — yelled out for the release of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest for more than two years. Rowhani smiled but made no comment.

“You can make any kind of promises you want,” said Merhzad Boroujerdi, director of the Middle East Studies program at Syracuse University. “At the end of the day, it’s the ruling clerics that decide whether they go anywhere.”

If nothing else at the Tehran news conference, the contrast was vivid with Ahmadinejad and his hectoring style.

“We are on a path of moderation. … We have to enhance mutual trust between Iran and other countries,” Rowhani told journalists. “We have to build trust

“The basis of politics is constructive interaction with the world,” said Rowhani.. “Circumstances have changed in the world by this election. … The new atmosphere will definitely be turned into a new opportunity.”

More in Local News

Residents are helping turn Casino Road in a new direction

An initiative backed by a $700,000 grant goes to the community for solutions to the area’s challenges.

It’s hard to find a parking spot at Wallace Falls State Park

There’s a study under way on how to tackle that issue and others.

At long last, a church of his own

After years of filling in elsewhere, Hallack Greider is the new pastor at Maplewood Presbyterian.

Judge: Lawmakers’ emails, texts subject to public disclosure

News organizations had sued to challenge the Legislature’s claim that members were exempt.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Number of flu-related deaths in county continues to grow

Statewide, 86 people have died from the flu, most of whom were 65 or older.

2 names released from recent fatal crashes

Both men were killed earlier this month.

Officer-involved shooting under US 2 trestle

A Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy was involved in the incident.

Marysville students make portraits of Filipino children

The drawings were sent to the Philippines and a video was made of the kids receiving them.

Most Read