People have been asking my opinion of Rouhani's (or Rowhani's) presidential election victory in Iran and what that means with respect to the nuclear dispute. I haven't been following Rouhani's campaign closely, frankly, but I have caught the gist of his position and see how he's been labelled as the "moderate" in the US press so I'll venture a guess that there's the expectation that he'll be more flexible on the nuclear issue than Ahmadinejad.
First, lets get the myth away that Ahmadinejad was particularly hardline on the nuclear issue. In fact lets remember that *Ahmadinejad agreed* to the Uranium swap deal, and was criticized for that during the 2009 elections by Mousavi, the purported "Green" leader, who accused Ahmadinejad of selling out.
But I'm curious to know what Rouhani is going to offer. Certainly, permanent cessation is "off the table" even with a new President. Giving up enrichment would be tantamount to Iran giving up sovereignty over its soil -- a comparison, by the way, that Rafsanjani himself made. The Tobacco Concession of 1891 that ultimately led to the fall of the Qajar dynasty would be nothing compared to giving up the sovereign right to an independent nuclear fuel cycle, and any regime that gives up this right would have not only lost all legitimacy but also blackened its name in the annals of Iranian history for generations to come...much like the Qajars.
So perhaps another "temporary suspension" is in the works? Rouhani was widely criticized during his campaign for his role in the nuclear negotiations with the EU-3 in which Iran agreed to the policy of suspension of enrichment as a voluntary goodwill gesture during the Khatami administration, but this supposedly "temporary" suspension was dragged out by the EU side for almost 3 years, and ultimately got Iran nothing in return for its gesture because the EU-3 had already agreed with the US that they would not recognize any enrichment in Iran, regardless of what they had told the Iranians when the Iranians first agreed to the suspension. That's why analysts said that the much-delayed EU-3 offer to Iran was little more than an "empty box in pretty wrapping."
[I should point out here how funny it is to read media accounts of those events, and notice how the media desperately try to come up with reasons for the failure of the Paris Agreement talks that blame Iran but they pointedly make an effort to avoid mentioning the mendacity of the EU-3 side. Instead we're told for example that Ahmadinejad's election was the reason for the resumption of enrichment, when in fact the resumption was announced by Rouhani himself, while Khatami was still in office as president. The actual resumption was delayed a few days to allow the IAEA to reinstall their monitoring gear, so it coincidentally occurred a few days after Ahmadinejad took office -- but it was under Khatami, not Ahmadinejad, when Iran restarted enrichment. And the reason why the Iranians restarted enrichment was because the Eu-3 lied to Iran. Don't let them tell you otherwise.]
I can't say that Rouhani won't offer another suspension of enrichment. The question is, at what price. Will it be another "freebie" like during the Paris Agreement (and Sa'adabad Declaration) negotiations or will there be a price exacted by the Iranians? I doubt it. I just don't see how Rouhani could commit the error of another pointless "gesture" like the suspension of enrichment. What's the point of making these gestures when the US has made its position clear: no enrichment in Iran? I can't believe that Rouhani is that naive.
"During the first meeting between Dr Rohani, the EU-3 foreign ministers, and the European Union’s foreign-policy chief, Javier Solana, in December 2004, the Iranians made it clear to their European counterparts that if the latter sought a complete termination of Iran’s nuclear fuel-cycle activities there would be no negotiations. The Europeans answered that they were not seeking such a termination, only an assurance on the non-diversion of Iran’s nuclear programme to military ends." http://www.worlddialogue.org/content.php?id=367
In short, if Mr Rouhani makes concessions, I am skeptical that he will win anything in return of comparable value. After all, it is hard to imagine what Iran could offer that it has not already offered and which has been dismissed by the US. And if Rouhani is thinking of making yet another concession offer, I predict he will be disapppointed and thus his election, rather than a new start, is really a continuation of what has become a tiresome pattern of repetition in the US-Iran standoff in which Iran makes concessions and gesture, and the US side raises the stakes. Hopefully though whatever concessions Iran makes will be better thought out than before, so as to not amount to permanent obligations imposed on Iran when the other side fails to reciprocate (this happened with Iran's temporary and voluntary acceptance of the Modified Safeguards. Even after Iran made it clear that it no longer intended to abide by them, the IAEA insisted that Iran had an on-going obligation to implement them.)