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Contentions

Re: Encouraging Iranian Moderates

Commenting on a conference of former world leaders in Tehran, Gordon correctly notes that all this support for former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami is somewhat misplaced:

Iran’s president is hardly the most powerful figure in the country’s amorphous political system, and he does not control key regime elements, including those responsible for the nuclear weapons program.

And even if Khatami had some influence, we should not delude ourselves about his genuine desire to change the course of Iranian history. And not just in terms of internal change–it was under Khatami, after all, that student movements were brutally crushed. When it comes to the nuclear file, one should never forget that, assuming that the NIE was accurate–a big if, of course–Iran chose to suspend its military nuclear program in 2003 under intense outside pressure. Khatami was then in his sixth year as president. If he knew anything at all about nuclear plans, he was hardly bothered by the presence of a nuclear military program in the backyard, even as he was ostensibly promoting his “alliance of civilizations” around the world.


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