Enough talk – Iran needs to show it’s changing
November 19th, 2013
08:33 AM ET

Enough talk – Iran needs to show it’s changing

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Emanuele Ottolenghi is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington DC. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has been on a charm offensive in an effort to improve relations with the United States. But thus far, his efforts have been little more than rhetorical attempts to “make nice” without substantive change. History shows the United States should be wary of rhetoric without action from Iran – and that Rouhani should consider some noteworthy regional precedents if he is truly serious in convincing the world of Tehran’s good faith.

At critical historic junctures, unexpected symbolic overtures have been successful at bridging ideological divides. Late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat took the world by surprise when he traveled to Jerusalem in November 1977 and spoke directly to the Israeli people. German Chancellor Willy Brandt, for his part, kneeled in front of a Warsaw Ghetto memorial in 1970, a spontaneous act of contrition that became legendary.

Had Rouhani, when speaking before the United Nations in New York in September, behaved similarly by taking responsibility and apologizing for the Marine Barracks Bombing in Beirut in 1983, or even the U.S. embassy takeover and hostage taking in Tehran in 1979, he may have found himself with some leverage. The recent anniversaries of both those events – the barracks bombing and the 444-day hostage crisis –meant now was the perfect time to acknowledge Iran’s culpability, thereby establishing Rouhani’s bona fide credentials. Tough negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program would still lie ahead, but the seeds of a potentially better relationship would have been planted.

Instead, Rouhani sent his deputy to join other senior regime stalwarts in the annual hate fest marking the embassy takeover anniversary. Nobody is rushing to apologize.

More from GPS: Tehran not only Iran deal obstacle

Apologies, of course, do not solve policy issues like the legitimate concern over Iran’s nuclear program and its support for terrorism. There are substantive ideological differences that require more than a simple nod to past misdeeds to fix. But diplomacy starts with conversation, and how that conversation progresses depends upon tone. Rouhani had the opportunity in New York to set that tone. He did not take it.

In fairness, he has of late made great and refreshing strides within Iran to tone down some of the anti-American rhetoric. In his first hundred days in office, he started a debate on the merits of chanting “Death to America” at Friday prayers and national calendar holidays. This resulted in the removal of some billboards around the capital. He has temporarily, and in some cases permanently, released a number of high-profile dissidents, and he has appointed a worldly and polished group of diplomats, including a cadre of new nuclear negotiators, to engage the international community.

It’s tempting to be excited by these gestures. But it’s important to remember that none are irreversible, none have gone unchallenged by the regime establishment, none reflect a strategic realignment of Iran’s worldview, and none have gone far enough to address the real reasons behind the three-decade long, deep and enduring hatred for America.

Taking down posters and banning public chants are nice gestures, but are nothing new or meaningful. In fact, they are timid and tentative first steps, and are already the victims of regime pushback. At best, they are little more than a reaction to how Iran believes it is perceived on the world stage. Embarrassment has been effective in forcing Iran to reconsider how open the country is with its policies, but it has never triggered a long-term shift in those policies. In January 2008, for example, when then nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili was ambushed by Euro-parliamentarians in Brussels about Iran’s very public executions, Iran confined hangings to prisons, away from the public eye. As international furor died down, Iran resumed public hangings.

More from GPS: Bad Iran deal worse than no deal

This anecdote is an important one to keep in mind as the United States works out how to proceed with a Rouhani determined to convince them that Iran has changed, especially with nuclear diplomacy now in full swing. Iran can be counted on to uphold the Islamic Republic’s founding ideology and, as a result, verbal overtures and apologies are not enough. What matters – and what the U.S. should seek – is a verifiable diplomatic agreement.

True, there are some tentative signs that repression of the people in Iran is waning, like the release of high profile prisoners (which in some cases only amounted to a furlough and was as arbitrary as their initial arrest). But given Iran’s history, efforts like these can be seen as despotic benevolence, designed to calm international protests and give Iran’s battered image a facelift, more than a genuine change in direction on the human rights’ front.

The same can be said of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Appointing diplomatic negotiators is not enough. A serious commitment from the regime should involve tangible steps on the nuclear file. Since taking office, Rouhani has had ample time to halt the installation of new centrifuges at the industrial-size enrichment facility of Natanz. He could have slowed enrichment activities. He could have offered more meaningful access to inspectors so better verification of Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities could begin. Ahmadinejad era appointees were very good at insulting and lecturing interlocutors, and it’s a welcome development that they’re gone. Their successors, while more pleasant as hosts, retain the same goals, something the United States would do well to remember in the coming months.

Iran has perfected the art of superficial rebranding. It is reasonable to assume that the Rouhani presidency, unless action is taken to deepen the shallow rhetoric, is on that same desperate path in order to salvage the desires of a brutal regime.

Post by:
Topics: Iran

soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Jose Luna

    If you're going to start this warmongering against Iran, I say we need a UN authorization for any aggressive acts we take. We can't afford another Iraq.

    November 19, 2013 at 9:15 am | Reply
    • new iranian nuclear site discovered....

      war mongering? it was a logically written article.

      November 19, 2013 at 9:49 am | Reply
      • Carlos

        I find this interesting. The writer wants Iran to apologize and there are lots of people who immediately jump and say, yes.. it should happen. But my question is, who from the US is apologizing for all the innocent people who died in Iraq? There were no weapons of mass destruction, there were no chemical weapons, and there were no ties to Bin Laden.. So it is known globally that those people died because of lies. So my question is repeated: why isn't the writer talking about the need for the US to apologize for all the innocent children and women they have killed?

        November 20, 2013 at 2:14 am |
      • j. von hettlingen

        Why didn't the author check before he wrote? He failed to mention that since Rouhani became president, Iran has stopped expanding its uranium enrichment capacity, a U.N. inspection report showed 10 days. The quarterly report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also said that since August no further major components had been added to a potential plutonium-producing reactor that worries the US and its allies.

        November 20, 2013 at 9:26 am |
      • Trevor

        First, INTENTIONALLY killing innocent women and children by directing individuals (Hezbollah) to walk into a cafe or board a bus and detonate an IED is ALOT different than soldiers (small arms, tanks or Bradleys) or airmen (drones, GBUs or Apaches), accidently killing civilians in an attempt to defend themselves or their buddies by engaging insurgents that are knowing embedding themselves into the civilian population and those civilians getting caught in the cross-fire...please tell me you see a glaring difference...

        Second, the VAST majority if civilian deaths in Iraqi were not at the hands of U.S. or coalition personnel, that is FACT. These casualities were caused by insurgents INTENTIONALLY my friend. I don't know if you worded your statement to allude that the U.S. and coalition were respsonsible for the majority of the Iraqi civilian deaths, but if that was in-fact your intent, you're statement is the biggest pile of crap in recent history...

        Finally, doesn't the the author's call for an "apology" seem to be for the INTENTIONAL killings of civilians?

        November 20, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
      • dupes34

        Perhaps it would make things more clear if this byline indicated that Ottolenghi taught Israel Studies at Oxford University from 1999-2006 and obtained his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has also written the book Under a Mushroom Cloud: Europe, Iran, and the Bomb. There is no question where Ottolenghi's opinion resides. That CNN obfuscates those pertinent pieces of information is a shame.

        November 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • Crimzin

      Who's warmongering? He wrote a well-reasoned article. So we can't criticize Iran without being warmongers now?

      November 19, 2013 at 11:50 am | Reply
      • Matt

        He's a jew, what do you expect!

        November 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
      • ann

        Thank you for pointing that out. And in regard to Matt's reply to you, which is totally racist, Moderators, please remove. I'm so sick of CNN allowing totally bigoted hate speech to remain posted.

        November 21, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • Chimo

      Jose, that was not war mongering, that was an intelligent and well thought out article, and everything the author said was true. This has all the marking of Neville Chamberlains "Peace in our Time" treaty he concluded with Hitler, and we all know how that one worked out. Rouhani is just an figurehead, the real power lies with the Ayatollah Khamenei, and he's an old man who cares nothing for the world but has a deep hatred for the U.S. and Israel, and has said that Iran wants to destroy Israel. If we do nothing and make a stupid deal with Iran, then we will be to blame when WW3 starts

      November 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Reply
      • tyelko

        WW3? What are you smoking? With Iran and whom? You apparently missed that Iran is an isolated country. And you and the author are committing the same mistakes again you did in dealing with Iraq. Had Rouhani acted as the author suggests, he would have already been removed from power. He has been criticised as is, but he has enacted quite a number of changes. The whole talk about the centrigues is the same misguided OCD on principles that led to disaster in Iraq. The Iran government HAS to project an aura of strength to its neighbors. And it has to show internally that decisions are made in Tehran, not in Washington.

        Your belief that the rest of the world should jump whenever the US whistles is far more of a danger to global security, as it breeds violent resistance against any government collaborating with the US.

        November 20, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • james

      More sanction force the regime of aytollah to give up the bomb, because they afraid of collapsing of their hated and dictator regime.

      November 19, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Reply
    • Trevor

      UN authorization if it had been granted to invade Iraq would not have made much of a difference...the poor planning, primarily due to the complete removal or most of the Iraqi military leaders from aiding in the post Major Combat Operations phase would still have been largely dictacted by the U.S. since we would have had the vast preponderance of forces.

      November 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Reply
    • sxs0214

      testing, testing

      November 20, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Reply
    • sxs0214

      Who is going to apologize to Iran for atrocities committed against her?
      – Democratic Government overthrown by US in 1953 in CIA Operation Ajax
      -Installing the corrupt Pahlavi regime in Iran
      -Saddam invasion of Iran( full support from the US and Saudi Arabia0- 1,000,000 Iranians die in the 8 year imposed war
      -Chemical weapons attack by Iraq (supplied by the US) and the west remains silent,
      - US kills 290 mainly Iranian civilians when a US naval ship, in Iranian waters, shoots down an Iranian passenger plane. The US awards medals to those who killed the Iranian civilians. 1988
      -US shelters thousands of Iranian MEK terrorists in Iraq and allows them to operate against Iran, 2003 onwards
      -Imposing illegal and crippling sanctions from the start for 30 plus years
      -Surrounding Iran militarily from east, west and south,
      -Continually threatening Iran with "all options on the table: for last 10 years
      -Killing Iranian nuclear scientists
      History is the witness that Iran did not start the hatred of the US government, and that it was the US who was determined from the early days of the revolution to get rid of the Islamic regime. Why? Regional supremacy.

      November 21, 2013 at 12:07 am | Reply
      • Shi

        THank You!! Americans are either ignorant to the fact that the USA has committed numerous crimes against Iran, or they just dont care

        November 21, 2013 at 8:27 am |
      • Trevor

        SXS – One note, the military personnel aboard the Vincennes didn't received medals as recognition for them shooting down Iran Air Flight 655. Their medals were for standard combat tours in the AG and the Air Warfare Coordinator aboard the Vincennes received 2 x citations for his combat tours and neither mentioned this engagment in the wording in the citations. I hope your wording didn't imply that he U.S. Navy "awarded" its personnel for shooting down a plane load of civilians, because that is a false claim...

        November 21, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  2. citizenUSA

    I guess Obama's trying for another Pulitzer and using Kerry as his puppet..

    November 19, 2013 at 9:21 am | Reply
  3. Towel Heads

    Towel Heads is what Towel Heads do.

    November 19, 2013 at 10:15 am | Reply
  4. Edward M Roche

    The deal being negotiated seems to be that in exchange for the community of nations reducing the severity of economic sanctions against Iran, it in turn will be able to continue to refine uranium. Since the original purpose of the sanctions was to stop enrichment of uranium, the current deal represents a capitulation of the world's community. Is this a "good deal"? You judge for yourself.

    November 19, 2013 at 10:22 am | Reply
    • ann

      Anything less than Iran giving up enrichment means there was no negotiation, just capitulation, as you state. I agree. Nothing short of having Iran dismantle it's enrichment capability would be a good deal. Iran's redline (giving up enrichment) means there is no real deal to be made. The negotiation is just a "show" for the public. I believe any deal has already been struck and the "negotiation" is simply a matter marketing it to the public, who largely don't understand the fact that a peaceful nuclear program requires NO enrichment capability. Iran's insistence that it continue to enrich uranium belies the it's true pursuit of nuclear weaponry.

      November 21, 2013 at 1:14 am | Reply
  5. Joseph McCarthy

    We need to get Iran to agree with the UN just as the South Africans did a number of years ago. That is, to have nuclear energy but no nuclear weapons. We also need to quit using the politics of hunger as a weapon against them. The politics of hunger never achieved anything worthwhile in all the annals of mankind!

    November 19, 2013 at 11:47 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Indeed, the author can't expect Rouhani to do, what Anwar Sadat and Willy Brandt did.
      Egypt was suspended from the Arab League in the wake of Sadat's visit to Jerusalem and Egypt's peace agreement with Israel. He was assassinated by Islamists in 1981.
      Why the former Chancellor Willy Brandt kneel down in the former Warsaw Ghetto in 1970 was one of the questions, which make up a new multiple-choice citizenship test that every immigrant has to pass to gain a German passport.

      November 20, 2013 at 8:55 am | Reply
  6. saywhat

    Firstly folks Foundation for defense of Democracies is a pro- Israel lobby and a big laugh if one examines its activities against its name.
    So I would hardly expect any objectivity in what ever they have to narrate reg the Iranian issue.
    Fact of the matter is that what could not be achieved in years to resolve this issue stands a chance now. Just as we have'Talibans' in our political and social strata who would rather keep warring, Iran has its Talibans who want that Iran remains confrontational to US. Rouhani is therefore taking a big risk and staking his political career in engaging with the US.
    This is a window of opportunity that should not be missed.
    The need for rationality in our stance towards Iran and change of stance cannot be stressed enough. Its an oil producing sovereign country with considerable influence in the region, a signatory to NPT & an important part of Intl community. Talks should proceed with good intent and purpose to resolve the issue. Iran has shown its willingness its the other side who has to change in the best US geopolitical/economic interests & world peace.

    November 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Reply
    • Chimo

      That is the biggest bunch of B.S. I've read yet. You and all the other Israel haters are real eager to throw Israel under the bus. It's people like you that caused me to stop voting democrat. You and those of your ilk believe all the lies that Israel killed millions of arabs and took away their land. Total fabricated garbage. Israel has every right to the land they live on including that in Judea and Samaria (not West Bank) Arabs own 99% of all the land in the mid-east but your kind would have Israel give all of it to the "Palestinians" It will never happen, your on the wrong side

      November 19, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Reply
      • MO

        A puerile response – which only enhances the credibility of the original post you criticised.

        November 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • ann

      What kind of talks are you suggesting? There is nothing that Iran is giving up. So they are only for show. It's my understanding that since Rhohani took office, executions in Iran have skyrocketed. How is he moderate? He is a puppet for a hateful despotic government that sponsors terrorism. Israel has it right on this one. Israel wants an agreement to have Iran dismantle it's nuclear weapons program, which means no enrichment. If Iran is sincere about only pursuing nuclear energy, they can do so without enrichment. The details matter. And the P5+1 and Iran can't even agree on the preamble to the agreement.

      November 21, 2013 at 1:20 am | Reply
      • Vyradder

        Khamenei has already said that Iran will retain the right to enrich uranium. Looks like there will be no deal if that's the US demand.

        November 21, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    Talking is better than not talking.
    Big gestures of Anwar Sadat and Willy Brandt were mentioned in the article. The more a country claims a direct link with the authority of either God or Allah, the less I expect that country to negotiate flexibly. I didn't hear so much talk about gods from Sadat or Brandt.

    November 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  8. saywhat

    Your outburst amply demonstrates what this country of ours doesn't need. The issue here is US-Iran negotiations. And all thinking Americans (i don't know about Israel firsters) who love their country would want US to steer away from more disasters after Iraq, Afghanistan,Libya,Syria and such.
    Those who stand for US-Iran war instead of a peaceful resolution can hardly be considered pro-America.
    Have a good day all.

    November 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Reply
    • Crimzin

      Can you get it through your head that giving Iran everything they want and going to war with them are not the only two options here? What we don't need more of is people like you acting like anybody who is skeptical of Iran is a warmonger advocating a military strike against them.

      November 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Reply
      • james

        Regime of mullah in iran will give up the bomb with a serious military strike threat or more sanctions not soft and respectful talk!.

        November 20, 2013 at 12:28 am |
  9. saywhat

    BTW @Chimo just so that you know.
    Those Arabs you fume against are on board with Israel on Iran issue and in Syria.

    November 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  10. The Persian

    "At critical historic junctures, unexpected symbolic overtures have been successful at bridging ideological divides. Late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat took the world by surprise when he traveled to Jerusalem in November 1977 and spoke directly to the Israeli people. German Chancellor Willy Brandt, for his part, kneeled in front of a Warsaw Ghetto memorial in 1970, a spontaneous act of contrition that became legendary."

    Of course, it would be a very powerful move for the Iranian Regime to address issues like the hostage crisis and apologize for them, but it would be very unfair of us to expect such moves to be made without the due reciprocation.

    Operation Ajax was an overthrow of a democratically elected government, in favor of an absolute monarchy, perpetrated by the CIA. Would it not be effective in establishing better relations with Iran and its people if President Obama apologized for that incident?

    We find it easy to point our fingers at one side and label them as the "bad guys", but, unfortunately, it's not that simple. Both Iran and the United States have to put in a sincere effort to repair their relations and create some stability in that region. Shame on you for making this seem so one-sided, Mr. Ottolenghi.

    November 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  11. saywhat

    Well put @Persian
    About time sanity is given a chance. Hope our lawmakers get this thru their dumb heads this time around.
    I invite all level headed Americans for the sake of this country to join in the efforts being made by Jewish Orgs like Jewish Voice for Peace, JStreet and others like Council for a Livable World, Just Foreign Policy, MoveOn.Org, to get American voices heard up on the Hill and pressure the law makers to go for peace not war.

    November 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Reply
    • ann

      No one wants war; which is precisely why the details like dismantling the apparatus of enrichment is so crucial. Without it war is inevitable. There is a pretty united voice in opposition to Iranian nuclear weapons aspiration. There is simply no agreement about shutting down the means to make the enrichment. Iran says they will not dismantle their enrichment capability (just limit it.) But that is largely meaningless, because going from 20% enrichment to 90% is very quick. The treat is not removed by limiting Iran to 20%. It is a huge benefit for Iran to have sanctions lifted, with only a very small delay in weaponizing uranium. The deal needs to be stronger, or the world needs to continue sanctions until Iranians can truly change their government.

      November 21, 2013 at 1:28 am | Reply
  12. Twolf

    Great article Mr. Jason Miks! So Refreshing to hear someone on the CNN staff actually talk some good, OBVIOUS, sense! Just like Netanyahu said, " Beware....... they are and have always been Wolves in Sheeps clothing!" They are Liars and if we push them just a little........ we will def see their TRUE COLORS, which are def RED for the U. S, and for Israel.

    November 19, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Reply
  13. DK

    This is a ridiculous article to be published at this critical time. It lacks any important elements to even be published and the timing of it can't be any worse. Instead of posting bullsh*&t articles like this, how about we hail the Iranian attempts to make amends and normalize relationships with the US. let's not forget historical facts: WWII: iran is invaded by allies and her resources are used for the war effort (very few western history books even recognizes the role of Iran).... 1950s' we stage a coup in Iran to replace a dictator for a democratic government, etc etc. we have literally f^&*ed them enough. Now Even when Iranians try to satisfy the US demands you are going to put a tag on them as charm offensive and undermine everything that has been done. Articles like this make CNN Sound stupid and uneducated when the rest of the world has a different tone......
    Everyone knows israel has more than 200 nuclear weapons yet noone questions them and all the killing they do, hypocrisy....

    We have to do what is in the best interest of our country not a small hardline political faction in israel or here who is hell bent on continuous ridiculous wars and hate toward the rest of the world.

    November 19, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Reply
    • ann

      Iran needs to prove it is serious, talk is cheap. Israel isn't the only beneficiary of taking a stronger stance. Stop implying that any one who demands verification of Iranian promises is a "small faction" influenced by Israeli needs. In fact the US president has stated he won't allow Iran to get a nuclear bomb. Now lets see if his state department has the political balls to make that really happen. Iran wasn't supposed to be enriching any uranium. So it is already in violation of the United Nations mandates. Sanctions were because of this. WHY go backwards? They need to cease all enrichment, or no lifting of sanctions.

      November 21, 2013 at 1:35 am | Reply
    • ann

      Iran needs to prove it is serious, talk is cheap. Stop implying that any one who demands verification of Iranian promises is a "small faction" influenced by Israeli needs. In fact the US president has stated he won't allow Iran to get a nuclear bomb. Now lets see if his state department has the political balls to make that really happen. Iran wasn't supposed to be enriching any uranium. So it is already in violation of the United Nations mandates. Sanctions were because of this. WHY go backwards? They need to cease all enrichment, or no lifting of sanctions.

      November 21, 2013 at 1:36 am | Reply
  14. The Truth

    "Had Rouhani, when speaking before the United Nations in New York in September, behaved similarly by taking responsibility and apologizing for the Marine Barracks Bombing in Beirut in 1983, or even the U.S. embassy takeover and hostage taking in Tehran in 1979, he may have found himself with some leverage."

    Excuse me Mr. Ottolenghi, did Obama EVER apologize for Operation Ajax? I cannot take this hypocrisy anymore. You cannot expect there not to be an aftermath to what the West, especially Britain and the U.S, did to Iran. Then again, he did earn a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University so it's safe to say that he has become brainwashed by the Zionists. Very typical of you....

    I recommend you either avoid all biases in your articles OR better yet, stop writing articles and start educating yourself.

    November 19, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Reply
    • ann

      Just because a Jew has an opinion, doesn't make it wrong.

      November 21, 2013 at 1:36 am | Reply
  15. Sara

    if talk with Ghaddafi or Saddam or Bin- laden got any results, those talk also would be good deal!!
    This regime can be trusted.
    Zarif had an interview in Tehran couple of days ago and told: even if we stop enriching Uranium temporary, we can easily re start it in near future!!

    November 19, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Reply
    • Sara

      correction of my comment:
      This regime can not be trusted.

      November 19, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Reply
      • sxs0214

        Sara, do you know of any regime that can be trusted?

        November 21, 2013 at 12:11 am |
    • Carlos

      Sara, I will not be the one defending Iran, I do not trust them either, but the problem here is double standards.. The US can kill thousands of kids and women, and destroy in the name of "freedom", but then everybody else is bad? The US does not need to apologize? .. I don't understand. The next thing is, who is checking on Israel's weapons of mass destruction? .. Is that not a bit of a double standard to want to check one but not the other? Why no sanctions to Israel? Is it so difficult to see what is happening here? Does anyone.. ANYONE truly believe the fight in Iraq was for "freedom"? Please!!

      November 20, 2013 at 2:26 am | Reply
      • Trevor

        What does the IAEA at the U.N. need to verify concerning Israel's nuclear weapons capability? That they have one? Common knowledge pal. Request for them to "admit" they have them? Purpose of that request? For them to "disarm"?...when your surrounded and outnumbered on all your borders by countries that already attempted to push you into the sea on multiple occasions and now you have one country in Iran that isn't even remotely "threatened" by Israel to displace their population, yet threatens you just to I suspect, to either look "tough" in front of Saudi Arabia or for some fanatical religious reason? Again, disarm?...what is the shelf life of a nuke?

        November 20, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  16. saywhat

    Agree absolutely@DK & @The Truth.
    Well said both. Nothing more to be added.

    November 19, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Reply
  17. Fairness

    Enough talk – Israel needs to come clean about its nuclear program

    November 20, 2013 at 9:46 am | Reply
    • Trevor

      Why? Just like Carlos above, that they actually possess nukes? What will that actually accomplish specifically?

      November 20, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Reply
      • sxs0214

        Trevor, I agree with you. However, cant the same logic apply to Iran, that IF and IF they are after the nuke, is not it solely for the same reason of "survival?" After all, Wahhabi Saudi Arabia is far more dangerous to Iran's regime than Israel. If Saudi's had nuke they would have dropped it on Tehran already! Iranians are more intelligent than that to build a nuke and drop it on someone.

        November 21, 2013 at 12:21 am |
      • Trevor

        SXS- Good to see that someone is seeing what I agree is another reason Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons...if you see my other retort to Carlos, I said kind of said the same thing. I'll disagree though that Iran's purpose for obtaining nukes is because they fear that SA will nuke them first. Tehran's pursuit and evidence of attainment started well before SA dealings with Pakistan...that was a "reaction" to Iran "starting" this nuclear "race". SA with its economic resources could easily have had nukes a long time ago if it really wanted them. Iran's pursuit I think is because SA has always been superior economically and has now recently surpassed them in conventional capability. I think its more of a game of "one upping the other" and who's going to be the dominate nation in the region. Since Tehran can't match SA economically or militarily (conventional), nukes are the great "equalizer". This was EXACTLY why the U.S. pushed the nuclear arms race...conventionally outnumbered by the Soviets in Europe.

        On the other hand, Israel obviously has some better "insight" (intelligence) into other reason(s) Iran is pursuing nukes:
        1. Real religious fanaticism at the very top levels of the regime...Islamic fanaticism has demonstrated time and time again a "suicidal" nature that trumps intelligence and common sense.
        2. Israel doesn't trust everyone within Iran's government and that a nuke will be smuggled to a fanatical Islamic terrorist group and the attack can be carried out and Tehran will claim ignorance.

        They obviously have a genuine fear that Tehran or a terrorist group will really nuke Tel Aviv...if they didn't have good reason to think this, why would Israel risk making their situation in the ME and around the world 10x worse by conducting conventional strikes on a threat that doesn't really exist. Again, on the other hand, even if they're not 100% sure, they're not willing to risk putting their population at risk of total annihilation, and I don't blame them for choosing the lesser of 2 evils...

        November 21, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Far

      Iran should apologize because some people did something in Lebanon, what about killing 290+ people over Persian gulf by American navy? where those domestic flight passengers terrorists? Shame on you!

      November 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Reply
      • tskimbal@msn.com

        Knowingly "pulling the trigger" on civilians is called an INTENTIONAL act of terrorism, the crew aboard the Vincennes has no knowledge that prior to shooting that their target was a civilian airliner. I'm guessing INTENT is something that you don't see is a factor is it?

        November 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • sara

      I Agree no WMD for Israel.

      November 21, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Reply
      • Trevor

        Too late...about 40 years too late.

        November 22, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  18. saywhat

    Now I'm being blocked.

    November 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  19. saywhat

    Taboo subject@Fairness. Careful.
    Israel's nuclear program and WMDS , a secret (no longer) to be kept with US consent. Ambiguity to continue. Israel is never to be questioned.
    An estimated 300 nuclear weapons with delivery system, nuke armed subs and chemical weapons.

    November 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Reply
    • ann

      Israel is questioned more than any other country on the face of the planet. You've got the double standard backwards.

      November 21, 2013 at 1:40 am | Reply
  20. saywhat

    regardless, its time that US sees these negotiations thru for the sake of world peace and its own global interests.
    We have ceded our influence and credibility in the M.East and S.Asia following self destructive policies for the past decade. letting other emerging powers to benefit.
    With Iran issue resolved peacefully we stand a chance to begin recouping and consolidating our position.
    The relentless pressure from Israel & S.Arabia is to be resisted.

    November 20, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  21. Inman

    Just search Mr. Ottolenghi name and you will find out why this is such a biased argument, he has done his phd in Hebrew University, Mr. Netanyahu would write the same kind of article if CNN asks.

    November 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Reply
    • ann

      Like the one CNN let Putin scribe? Just because he's Jewish, or even if he were Israeli, doesn't mean his points are valid.

      November 21, 2013 at 1:41 am | Reply
  22. saywhat

    Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a known Israeli lobby.

    November 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  23. Proud Persian Princess

    Enough already!! Enough of forcing the world to continuously apologize to Jews for unalterable events that happened long ago.

    Why don't we play the game this way...

    Instead of forcing the world to apologize for crimes committed by those long dead and gone, how about Jews and Netanyahu THANK IRANIANS/PERSIANS for the Great Persian King CYRUS who ALLOWED Jews to resettle in Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple?

    After all, it was a highly revered and respected and beloved Persian King who commanded those who had been displaced the right of return...It would be absolutely amazing if modern day Israelis were graceful enough to bestow this upon others...that kindness which had been bestowed upon them in the past.

    November 20, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Reply
    • sara

      Problem is modern Jews in Israel are NOT REALTED to ancient Jews from 2500 years ago. The modern day Jews are genetically and culturally Eastern European.

      November 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  24. Rick McDaniel

    Well that I will absolutely agree with.

    November 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Reply
  25. USAPeasant

    Very good article, really speaks for itself.

    November 20, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Reply
    • Far

      Iran should apologize because some people did something in Lebanon, what about killing 290+ people over Persian gulf by American navy? where those domestic flight passengers terrorists? Shame on you!

      November 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Reply
      • sara

        Also America helped Saddam use chemical weapons on Iranian civilians, U.S should apologize to Iranians.

        November 21, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  26. Joe

    They must be very close to having a working nuclear bomb for them to do all the stalling with this talks nonsense so we wont trash their progress. This was never about them stopping, it is just a delaying tactic.

    November 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  27. sara

    for Defense of Democracies in Washington DC is neoconservative think tank with ties to AIPAC and other pro-Israeli organization. What they say is very biased and NOT based on facts.

    November 21, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  28. freddy

    Iran is a barbaric mass exporter of terror and anyone thinking they will change is naive. They are masterminds at deception.
    Their agenda is to have sanctions lifted while secretly completing development of nuclear bomb. No one knows what they have hidden under ground.

    November 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Reply
  29. Get real

    What is the going rate for writing agenda oriented articles these days? I heard the Saudis pay real well.

    November 22, 2013 at 7:35 am | Reply
  30. Surely you must be joking

    "Emanuele Ottolenghi is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington DC."

    Did you say Foundation for defense of Democracies in DC? LOL LOL LOL omg you guys please stop you are killing us omg omg LOL LOL LOL LOL. "Foundation for defense of Democracies " yeah sure.... whatever you say. LOL omg omg. hahahahahaha

    November 22, 2013 at 7:45 am | Reply
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