Iran warns Obama’s government: “Quit talking like Bush”

February 26, 2009

Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee didn’t attend the latest U.N. Security Council meeting on Iraq. But the moment the 3-hour session was over the Iranian delegation was circulating a strongly worded letter from Khazaee that had a very clear message for the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama: Stop talking like Bush.

He was responding to less than two dozen words on Iran in U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice’s speech to the council during a routine review of U.N. activities in Iraq. Rice said that U.S. policy “will seek an end to Iran’s ambition to acquire an illicit nuclear capacity and its support for terrorism.”

Those words clearly infuriated the Iranians, who have been toning down their anti-U.S. rhetoric since Obama took over from George W. Bush five weeks ago.

“It is unfortunate that, yet again, we are hearing the same tired, unwarranted and groundless allegations that used to be unjustifiably and futilely repeated by the previous administration,” Khazaee said in a letter to the council’s current president, Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu.

“Instead of raising allegations against others, the United States had better take concrete and meaningful steps in correcting its past wrong policies and practices vis-a-vis other nations, including the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Khazaee’s remarks were among the most critical of the new U.S. administration by a senior Iranian official to date.

Is the Obama administration simply repeating the “same tired” language of the Bush administration? The accusations aren’t new, U.N. diplomats say, but the promises of a new approach could herald a radical shift in U.S. policy on Iran.

Obama, Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said repeatedly that Washington would use all tools, including direct talks, to deal with Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes.

Iran has reacted cautiously, saying it’s open to fair talks while demanding fundamental changes in U.S. policy. Western envoys in New York say that not everyone in the Islamic Republic is happy about the outstretched hand of Obama and his promises of change.

Tehran had often criticized the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush, which labeled Iran a member of an “axis of evil” with North Korea and pre-war Iraq. It’s harder to criticize Obama at the moment, diplomats say. That could be one of the reasons Khazaee seized the opportunity to attack Rice’s speech to the council.

“The hardliners in Tehran find it easier to have a U.S. administration that turns its back on them,” said a European diplomat. “It’s easier to deal with a ‘Great Satan’. It gives them someone to blame their troubles on.”

It’s nearly three decades since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980 after militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took a group of U.S. diplomats and officials hostage.

Present-day Iran, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that Israel should be “wiped off the map”, has repeatedly ruled out a suspension of the country’s uranium enrichment program, prompting the Security Council to impose three rounds of sanctions.

U.N. diplomats say that Obama administration officials have signaled that they do not believe the Iranian nuclear program can be stopped with U.S. or Israeli air strikes. Instead, Obama wants to use a combination of pressure – possibly by imposing further U.N. sanctions – and inducements to persuade the Iranians to halt their enrichment program. The details of the new approach are being worked out in a thorough review of the U.S. policy on Iran, U.S. officials say.

“Will a kindler, gentler U.S. approach work?” asked the European diplomat. “We’ll have to wait and see. Iran’s one of the countries that invented chess and it’s a very good player.”


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Nobody should expect changes in the foreign policy of the United States. It is the Business-As-Usual forever with some changes in appearances.
The formula is easy:
Obama is Bush
Suze Rice is Codi Rice
Continue the list your-self, please.

Posted by Cyrus | Report as abusive

Obama is Bush 2.0
The war is impossible to avoid.

Posted by Higarra | Report as abusive

obama can say whatever he wants, but his actions show something else. his appointment of the zionist david ross as the “middle east” ambassador was terrible move, then having susan rice go to this meeting and sound like condaleeza rice was another mess up. you can reach your hand out all you want, but there is still the other hand that is still balled up in a fist. however i’m sure with the current election of the izraeli taliban government writing the american policies from tel-aviv, we can kiss the whole “diplomatic” approach good bye. World war 3, here we come

Posted by hassan | Report as abusive

i hope obama don’t talk or act like bush

Posted by askgetanswer | Report as abusive

If the Obama administration wants a real change they should stop using the same lecture of the Bush administration,that really was a real mess around the world,we the people around the world are really tired of the policies of the US we need another country or countries to lead the world we cant no longer follow the examples of the US in this time that world is in an economic mess caused by the bad politics of the US.

Posted by Rod | Report as abusive

It is refreshing to hear the above sentiments by fellow Reuters readers. Though ever-so-slowly other Americans are becoming disillusioned with Obama, it is still true that the corporate and official media are determined to force illusions on the population and have met with a large degree of success to this point. It is the crime of America that in its cultural isolation it is unable to reason except by crude racial terms, whether its hypocrisy against Arabs and other Asians, or the wretched “Identity” delusion that makes heros out of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or Harvey Milk, for instance, solely because of racial, gender or sexual categories! If only my fellow Americans could realize how fictitious, hysterical and cruel their dogmas appear to the Gazan or Persian – who can firmly stick his/her biases to the marching boots behind every border, a million missiles and drones lurking behind the clouds! Is this “irrational” bitterness about America really less concrete than our Muhammad cartoons?

Posted by Roy Fairbank | Report as abusive

Change will only come by force. Whoever you are allowed to vote for belong to equally corrupt parties who serve the same masters. It’s amazing people still go to polls thinking some candidate will keep any lie promises made to get elected. Just bears witness to how absolutely STUPID Americans have become being so insulated from true world news and affairs. The wealthy had you convinced the Chinese were evil until they decided Mexican ;abor was not cheap enough. The world laughs at what’s left of this country.

Posted by jim | Report as abusive

I guess the fact that Iran is run by radical Muslims seeking the destruction of Israel doesn’t mean anything. It’s pretty disgusting how the jihadist’s violate the civil rights of women and gays and Christians everyday and then call Americans the racist villains.

It cracks me up to see third world dictator thugs like Amidinajad rattling their sabers. Just remember where Sadaam is these days. Pray that the US doesn’t unleash Israel on Iran.

Posted by the mayor | Report as abusive

Well, Obama will just sit down to a beer with Ahmadinejad and peace and love will once again win the day.

Actually, Obama is smart enough to know the difference between campaign talk and the dangerous world we live in. Iran doesn’t care who is in power. They are going to push every button they can to keep the turmoil churning.

Foreign turmoil always foil the domestic plans of democrat presidents.

And this is just the beginning for Obama…

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

It is so simple to see where repeating past wrong policies will take the U.S. Just take a look at the financial problem inherited from Bush adminstration. They have made such a huge mess and not only in economics but also in whatever they touched. Why then, for God’s sake, anyone would believe that Bush & co. were right about Iran?

Posted by wattson | Report as abusive

I have to agreed with the Iranian government comments, regarding stop talking like the Previous Bush Administration….

Posted by Dennis Junior | Report as abusive

yay!!! Yeah, good step Iran

Posted by VenetianHotelandCasin | Report as abusive

It is quiet normal for US to act in a bullying manner, which should be understood by Iran to act appropriately towards a better dialog.

US too should understand, acknowledge and act appropriately to the new found ‘Super Power’ status of ‘Iran’, which in all probability can safely be placed after ‘India’ in Military Power, Economics, Political Climate, Culture etc.,

If US manages to get Iran into an agreement like that of Indian Civil Nuclear agreement, that in itself would be a great diplomatic victory for US. Because, Iran sooner than later has got a great chance to become a ‘Veto’ wielding member of the ‘Security council’ along with ‘India’ if there is a chance for the ‘expansion’ of the UN security council. US, Iran and the world has to change themselves to the newer realities of power shift.

Posted by Doulath Khan M. Mohamed | Report as abusive

[…] responds to this with an angry letter to the UN Security Council saying that Obama needs to “stop talking like Bush.”  Iranian posturing in general is on the rise as Tehran has territorial altercations with […]

Posted by Weekly Intelligence Briefing – Friday, February 27, 2009 | Simple Intelligence | Report as abusive

Iran has said that the Israeli regime will vanish, not be “wiped off the map” as your report incorrectly states. This information has been available for years and it is inexcusable for Reuters to continue to perpetuate this falsehood.

See: ught-red-handed mor-of-the-century

Posted by J. Wilson | Report as abusive

it’s funny how some people are so misinformed and so ignorant that they think that every muslims country is full of “jihadits” and extremist. you forget that in america’s short history we had 200 years of slavery where we brutalized african americans. you forget that that we came to this land, had a thanksgivng day feast with the natives then stole their land, slaughtered them, and pushed them onto living on some indian reservations in the middle of no where. did u ever think why the iranians are so crazy?? how about the fact that we over threw a democratically elected leader and replaced him with a maniac. how about the fact that we shot down a civilan passenger airliner and killed a 180 people for no reason. how about the fact that we put them on the so called “axis of evil” list while they were helping us against the taliban. let’s not forget it was the U.S who supported sadaam, supported the “mujahideen” who are now al-qaeda and the taliban. we called saudia arabia,egypt, and pakistan allies when they are the world’s leading exporter in extremist. its moronic, idiotic thinking like the one expressed above why the U.S finds itself so hated thru out the world.

Posted by sidney | Report as abusive

It is a disappointment that Obambam rattles the sabre. (Apologies to Barney and Betty Rubble –of the Flintstones). Obambam does doesn’t believe that Iranian’s have their Qibla in Mecca and not that 555 feet and 5 inches of classic phallus architecture in Washington, D-word City.
But perspective/opinion does change one’s views. To re-write “the mayor” above, at 0501 hours:
“I guess the fact that America is run by self-righteous, krazy khristians seeking the destruction of anyone who defies their busy-body arrogance, doesn’t mean anything. It’s pretty disgusting how the evilgelicals violate the dignity of women (by teaching them, 5th Ave style, to act like trash) and men (by sanctifying gays) and bomb (near) children everyday and call Iranians sponsors of terrorism.
“It cracks me up to see First World Full-of-Themselves like Rice rattling the sabres. Just remember where Bush is these days (fading from memory). Pray that Iran doesn’t unleash on Israel when the US bombs Iran.”

I wonder what Obama’s social engineering plan is for Pakistan? U.S. policy is to break it and seize the nukes.

Posted by hasanhh | Report as abusive

In response to the comment posted earlier by J. Wilson, I wanted to point out that Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported on Oct. 26, 2005 that President Ahmadinejad said, “Israel must be wiped off the map.” He was speaking at a conference called “The World without Zionism.”

Posted by Louis Charbonneau | Report as abusive

In response to Louis Charbonneau, President Ahmadinejad was quoting the former leader of Iran and it was in reference to the Israeli regime being removed as a ruling government, just as the USSR was removed as the rulers of Russia and Eastern Europe.

Your attempt at misinformation is intellectually insulting.

Posted by Jonathan Alexander | Report as abusive

Just for the record:

TEHRAN, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that Israel should be “wiped off the map”, the official IRNA news agency reported, a statement roundly condemned by three European powers and Canada.
Support for the Palestinian cause is a central pillar of the Islamic Republic which officially refuses to recognise Israel’s right to exist.
“Israel must be wiped off the map,” Ahmadinejad told a conference called “The World without Zionism”, attended by some 3,000 conservative students who chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America”.
Under reformist President Mohammad Khatami, whose eight-year tenure ended earlier this year, Iran had shown signs of easing its implacable hostility towards Israel. Officials said Tehran might not object to a two-state solution if that was what the Palestinians wanted.
But Ahmadinejad, a former member of the hardline Revolutionary Guards and traditional religious conservative, said there could be no let-up in its hostility to Israel.
“The Islamic world will not let its historic enemy live in its heartland,” he said…

If you want a second source for Ahmadinejad saying that Israel should be “wiped off the map” you can look at the published text of the speech. I’ve added a hyperlink to a New York Times translation in the blog above. It’s true that he was reiterating what the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said, but he was embracing, not rejecting it. He added that Khomeini’s original declaration that Israel should be wiped off the map was a “very wise statement.”

Posted by Louis Charbonneau | Report as abusive

Just for your record:

You do realize that you quoted a Reuters article, right? That is not the same as quoting the original source (which is itself a crude translation from Farsi). In fact, since I can speak Farsi and know exactly what he said, so you would be best to find a literal translation of the text, which in a word-for-word translation is:
“The Zionist regime must vanish from the page of time.”

Considering that Farsi (like French) is a poetic language, and it specifically used the word “regime” (i.e. government and not the nation) it is in no way a threat. It is a declaration of what Iran believes is inevitable (for whatever crazy reason). Nonetheless, it is not declaration of war.

You would be wise to educate yourself with more than tertiary sources and biased journalists.

Posted by Jonathan Alexander | Report as abusive

The Reuters report was based on our own translation from the original Farsi by our Tehran bureau. We don’t rely on “tertiary sources” for our reporting.

Posted by Louis Charbonneau | Report as abusive

As far as I know the USSR is wiped-off the map and people of the region are happier than the cold-war era. Being wiped-off is not always a bad thing. Think twice before you accuse others as hardliners.

Posted by Sharif | Report as abusive

Dear M. Charbonneau:
Apparently your Tehran Bureau is filled with illiterate, arrogant and incompetent employees, who are not aware of their ignorance.. for example, I have listened to Ahmadinejad’s statement and I can say with 100 percent certainty that the following words or equivalent does not exist in his staetment:
1-The word “Israel”
2- The word “Map”
3-The phrase “wiped off”
What does exist are
–“the regime occupying Holy Land”,

By the way, are you being paid more for insisting on your stupidity ?


Posted by Gregory Wise | Report as abusive

[…] Iran is unhappy with Obama. […]

Posted by Where is the Outrage? « Tarry for the Nonce | Report as abusive

“Quit talking like Bush”. Hear hear – the Obama administration really isn’t impressing the world with any CHANGE yet, are they?

Posted by Marie | Report as abusive

Jonathan Alexander,
Thanks for your clear understanding and analysis of both the Farsi language, as well as deciphering between the words “Regime” and the “Nation”… The differences of which worlds apart…

Isn’t the great bias of the mainstream Media (Reuteres not an exception) only too obvious…at least to some folks? Unfortunately their slanted reportage that is totally devoid of integrity, does effectively taint the views of many; since the majority take the news at face value especially those provided by the Media moguls…which is all that the media (the mouth piece for the politicians) wants to begin with! So, mission accomplished!

Posted by Azita | Report as abusive

Dear Louis Charbonneau

>>>>>The Reuters report was based on our own translation from the original Farsi by our Tehran bureau. We don’t rely on “tertiary sources” for our reporting.<<<<<

Perhaps it’d save your reputation if you fired your entire Tehran bureau who seem to be utterly incompetant in their translation skills!!! There are professional translators out there you know!

Posted by Azita | Report as abusive

[…] diplomacy with Iran, something the Israelis kind of support, he has made it abundantly clear that a nuclear Iran can’t, and won’t, […]

Posted by Joe the Plumber at CPAC:Does Obama Mean Death to Israel? | Christopher Howell | Report as abusive