Ataollah Mohajerani, who has been a spokesman in Europe for presidential candidate-turned-dissident Mehdi Karroubi, came to Washington to address the annual conference of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The mostly pro-Israel crowd was primed to cheer what they expected would be a harsh condemnation of Ahmadinejad and his bellicose rhetoric, and a promise of change by the green coalition.
What they heard, instead, was a speech that started with a rehashing of U.S. involvement in the 1953 coup in Tehran and went on to echo much of Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric about the United States and the nuclear program. Mohajerani, who served as culture minister in the liberal Iranian government of Mohammed Khatemi in the 1990s, distanced himself from the current president’s denial of the Holocaust and remarked at one point that Iran “should not be more Palestinian than the Palestinians.”
But he went on to assert, as per the current regime, that the countries seeking to freeze Iran’s nuclear program themselves possess nuclear weapons, as does Israel; that Israel had contracted to supply nuclear weapons to Iran’s former shah; and that Ahmadinejad’s threats to destroy Israel were no different than what Hillary Clinton had said about Iran during her presidential campaign. Asked whether Israel had a right to exist, he refused to respond.