February 19, 2016
President Rohani says Iran and the United States could have better relations, but that will require Washington to change its “hostile” stand toward the Islamic Republic.
He said nothing about the far more voluminous hostile statements by Iranian officials, however, picturing the hostility as coming from one direction only.
Rohani also said it would be much better if the United States had higher quality legislators in its Congress—but made no observations on the quality of Majlis deputies.
The important thing that the Americans should understand, he said, is that the United States cannot solve any problems in the United States without Iran’s involvement. This was an interesting shift from the usual regime rhetoric that Iran could solve all the problems of the region if the Americans would just get out of the way.
He also accused the “Israeli lobby” of being the source of American hostility toward Iran.
Rohani was speaking during his visit to Europe last week. He told a news conference, “It’s possible that Iran and the United States might have friendly relations. But the key to that is in Washington’s hands, not Tehran’s.”
“I would like to see the Americans set aside their hostility and chose another way, but inside the US there are some problems, there is no unified voice,” he said, noting that “the Zionist lobby” was “very influential.” He did not note that it lost its biggest campaign in recent years—the effort to kill the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Rohani also rejected accusations that Iran was funding terror organizations. “It is clear that Iran is a country opposed to terrorism and a country that fights terrorism,” he said.
“The Americans know very well that when it comes to important regional issues they cannot achieve anything without Iran’s influence or say,” he added firmly.
Rohani said he would be glad to welcome American investors to Iran. But he said the obstacle lies in Washington.
He voiced frustration with American politics, saying, “Right now, in the US, there is no single voice. There are differences between the Congress and the Administration.” That is certainly true of Washington—but it is also true of Tehran.
Rohani clearly found Congress to be the major problem. “The US should stop putting pressure on Iran,” he said. “They have not learned that the era of sanctions is over. We hope that they will get more sensible people in the US Congress,” he said, a view that President Obama could echo.
“The US Congress uses sanctions as the weapon of choice against others. They need to learn that in today’s world sanctions and coercion are useless,” he said. But in both Europe and North America many people are singing the praises of sanctions, saying they succeeded in bringing Iran to heel and proving that war was not needed to put a cap on Iran’s nuclear program.