It’s hard to work out what exactly Iran’s President Rouhani said in the USA about Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions (or not) and/or the Holocaust.

We Brits see these events through the filter of our media bias. Luckily we have Press TV to explain what is happening:

Although the reports of both events on Tuesday have the same basis of information- dissemination, but (sic) they clearly contain some distortion as far as the British government’s policy of maintaining a “special relationship” with the US is concerned.

The Independent, a liberal to radical centre (sic) British newspaper, stepped over the mark and accused Iran of seeking a nuclear weapons capability in its report of the event. The report referred to president Obama’s address, saying Obama told the General Assembly to setup talks with “Iran over nuclear weapons”, when without a doubt the G5+1 meetings have been discussing Iran’s nuclear energy program, uranium enrichment and other medical needs for purified uranium and not what they paper refers to as “nuclear weapons”…

Mind you, I thought that many commenters at Telegraph Blogs were a bit dotty. Press TV moves things up a gear (the capital letters are always a bad sign):

EXCATLY Press tv

Sep 25, 2013 5:59 PM

This is WHY an INDEPENDENT and TRUTHFULL news source, FREE from ZIONIST Control,and MANUPILATION is REQUIRED. PRESS TV is that channel and lives up to its freedom. Obummer and SATANIC Zionist core will always be the LOSERS. Go PRESS tv TELL them the TRUTH even if it HURTS them so much. FREE PRESS IS PRESS TV


Johnin reply to Defender

9/25/2013 9:10:42 PM

France, UK, AUS, NZ, CN, Israel and the US, among others are all controlled by the Bankers who own their debt. The US does not call the shots for the UK, if anything it is the other way around. The news in the UK is far more biased towards the Bankers interest than even the all but non-existent World news in the US. The broadcast media in the US is much the same as the BBC as far as propaganda goes, but the US, has not gained complete control of the Press in the US, unlike the Press in the UK that answer to the “Crown”.

Good solid points all.

Meanwhile whereas some mainstream media outlets are presenting Rouhani’s words (especially on the Holocaust) in a moderate new light, commenters in the West and in Iran itself are saying that what he said in the original Iranian was a lot more ambiguous.

Here is a tough-line US piece that drills down into some Iranian linguistic subtleties to try to find out what it all means:

But there is a mechanism by which Khamenei, as the “big cheese” in the Khomeinist system, can make his decisions binding on the government of the Islamic Republic.

That mechanism, called khat-e-hokumati (state decision), is the equivalent of a presidential edict in the United States or France. But Khamenei has issued no such thing on the nuclear issue. He has just expressed an opinion that he or any other mullah can contradict or cancel anytime.

If Khamenei weren’t playing tricks, he’d issue a khat-e-hokumati. And if he were truly serious, he’d ask Rouhani to submit a bill to the Islamic Majlis, the ersatz parliament, to make the development, deployment and use of nuclear weapons illegal.

He’s done none of those things, and does not intend to. All he is trying to do is to hoodwink gullible Americans and Europeans.

Not, one must say, implausible?

Nonetheless, sometimes for no obvious reason in diplomacy the ‘mood’ changes. Capitals that have been busy shouting abuse at each other start (perhaps for quite cynical or contradictory reasons) to see advantage in ‘dialogue’ and the impression of ‘progress’. Maybe if Iran can’t bamboozle us by belligerence, it will try to bamboozle us by charm.

It of course suits President Obama to present all this as being down to his open-handed approach and his ever-so-finely calculated willingness to threaten force. He is after all a Nobel Peace Prize winner

This conclusion from that New York Post piece spells out things with helpful clarity:

On Thursday in New York, the foreign ministers of the 5+1 Group, including Secretary of State John Kerry, will meet Iran’s new foreign minister, Javad Zarif. In speeches and interviews in New York, Rouhani has parroted the cliché about “talks without preconditions.”

Iran has used this tactic for decades, pretending that each round of talks starts with a blank page. Yet the nuclear talks do have preconditions — those five UN Security Council resolutions. If Iran complies with them, the dispute will be over; if it doesn’t, the dispute will continue.

Whether or not Rouhani ever shakes Obama’s hand, and whether or not he shows “moderation and flexibility” on American TV, are beside the point.

Ah. Maybe not.

It may suit all concerned to behave like chess players who decide to avoid risky gambits and exchanges and instead settle into a long-term game of patient micro-manoeuvring, hoping to gain small if not imperceptible advantages that, when the time is right, can turn quickly into dramatic gains of territory or material.

In other words, the implacable rivalry continues but using different methods.

That said, different methods in themselves bring different problems and opportunities. In particular, once two sides who have not talked for ages start to talk they may find that they have fewer differences than they thought, and even some unexpected things in common. And everyone else so likes the fact that they’re talking – threatening to stop talking starts to carry a reputational or wider policy cost.

This is what diplomacy is all about. Spotting openings and hoping thereby to change the way the game is played if only to make it objectively less risky and, slowly but surely, rather more amicable. And as in chess, a very long subtle drawn game is not always a bad outcome.