Op-Ed: Rouhani's Charm Offensive
With Iranian President Rouhani speaking at the UN in New York, it is useful to see the messages coming out of Tehran from an annual military parade held on Sept. 22, 2013.
Significantly, Rouhani attended the parade, reviewed the forces and spoke as well. He was accompanied by the heads of the Iranian armed forces. Seated to his right was Iranian Chief of Staff, Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, and to his left was the Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad-Ali Jafari
Iranian messages that were featured during the Tehran military parade are food for thought. While in English the Iranians wrote “Down with America,” in Persian and Arabic, the Iranians wrote, “Death to America.”
The parade included a line of missile transports carrying Shahab-3 missiles, which have a 1,300-kilometer range that can reach both Israel and American bases in the Persian Gulf. The lead vehicle has a poster in the front which says: “America Is Not as Powerful as It Claims to Be.”
Thus, on the eve of his visit to the UN, Rouhani took part in a major national event which contradicted the themes he has been stressing during his charm offensive in New York.
Finally, under Rouhani’s presidency, Iran’s military parade contained a blatant statement calling for Israel’s destruction. On the lead vehicle of a line of trucks transporting Shahab-3 missiles, there appears a banner that reads: “Esraail baayad az beyn beravad” – “Israel Should Cease to Exist.”
Iran’s apologists will no doubt say that the sentence is in the passive voice, so it is not clear how it ceases to exist. But the very fact that the Iranians attach a sign of this sort to a vehicle carrying Shahab-3 missiles means that Tehran itself is juxtaposing its intention to destroy Israel with the military means to carry it out.
Reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency last year, especially in May 2012, contained information that Iran was seeking to remove the conventional warhead from a Shahab-3 missile and replace it with a spherical nuclear device.