That 2004 Rouhani Speech

The Wonk published it a while back. By “it,” I mean a speech that current Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani gave in 2004 when he was Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. The speech is an absolute gold mine of information on all sorts of topics, but this post is only about the speech’s date, which was 2004.

At least three credible sources (here, here, and here) have incorrectly written that Rouhani gave the speech in 2005. But that’s actually the year in which the speech, which Rouhani gave to the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, was published.

Now, it’s true that the document Jeffrey published does not give a date for the speech. We can, though, infer a date from the text.

However, we first need a (very simplified) summary of some recent history…Iran reached two different agreements with the E3 which included provisions that Iran would suspend its enrichment program. The first was concluded in October 2003. The second, and more detailed proposal, was concluded in November 2004. From its context, we can reasonably infer that Rouhani’s speech was given sometime in fall 2004 before Iran reached the second agreement.

First, Rouhani argued that the E3 were “pressuring Iran to broaden the scope of its suspension, and they included that demand in the recent September [IAEA Board of Governors] resolution.” That’s a pretty clear reference to this resolution, which the board adopted in September 2004. The board did adopt a resolution in September 2005, but that resolution was adopted after current President Ahmadinejad had taken office. Since then-Iranian President Khatami was in the audience for the speech, though, we know that Rouhani wasn’t referring to that resolution.

Second, Rouhani refers several times to a proposal that Iran was discussing with the E3; for example, he mentions the “package that the Europeans have offered us.” We know that Rouhani was discussing the November 2004 proposal because his description of that package includes references to European support for Iranian membership in the WTO and European counter-terrorism cooperation with Tehran – items which do not appear in the 2003 agreement.

Third, Rouhani mentions several times that about a year had passed since the 2003 agreement.

I’m not (just) being pedantic here; the date of the speech matters from a substantive standpoint. But I’ll address that in a later post.

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