Well, well. Everybody’s eye is now caught by the new official website the Iranians launched about their nuclear program: nuclearenergy.ir
Smooth. Very smooth.
We suppose we’ll hear more on the content by the nukular pundits. But there is much we can say about the design and the entirely new style and PR approach in this new elegant and functional site. This is the work of pros! And forgive us for risking a guess but it smells like Madison Avenue.
Land on the page and you’ll immediately sense this is not one of these sites that simply exists to justify the salaries of civil servants and bureaucrats. And it’s not for internal consumption either nor for preaching to the choir and for cajoling the usual vaguely sympathetic towards Iran anti-imperialist crowd. See for example how it doesn’t link to a version of the site in Farsi. The target group is clearly public opinion in the West and the people who built it know how to speak to this crowd.
Just have a look at the dominating feature of the site: The big banner at the top of the landing page. It starts with the beautiful image of a majestic snowy peak of the Alborz mountain range asking “Nuclear Energy…In Iran?” As the mountain subsides under the clouds an oil platform appears on the water and fire in the skies to ask anew “…when it has all that oil?” A find-out-why box is there to usher you in the ‘Motives’ section of the site. Slick. Extra points awarded for advertising Iran’s oil wealth on the side.
The next image sequence is a winner too. Good ole Ahma (in a slightly unflattering pic) makes a cameo to kick-start a mini quiz. “Did the nuclear saga begin with this president?” Nuclear saga? That’s a new one. Anyway. In then walks president Khatami (in a way classier picture, him addressing the 2004 World Economic Forum) to further pick on our brains “… or was it this president?” Just as you are busting your brains to remember when the Iranians started their nuclear program you are served a black and white picture featuring none other than Shah Reza Pahlavi inspecting a ceremonial guard of the US Military next to US President Gerald Ford, the Star-Spangled Banner unfurled in the winds. “Think again,” and you are taken to the ‘History’ page. Oh snap!
And there are infographics and special sections on the Negotiations, Legal Aspects as well as one on ‘Controversies‘ where all the thorny issues usually raised by the international community are listed and addressed point by point. They are opening all the cans of worms even if they have not dug all the way to the bottom.
It has been clear that the new Iranian administration seeks a settlement on its nuclear program, which it intends of course to keep, and a normalized new modus vivendi with the West and the international community with less sanctions, if none at all. Ayatollah Khamenei picked the new President Rouhani, and he handpicked his nuclear negotiators team including the new PR mastermind Abbas Araghchi. The President and his team mean business but what’s more important is that they come from this business and they know this business. Now from this new website we see how they’ll be playing the PR game vis-à-vis western public opinion and the media.
The new website exudes Iranian confidence on the truthfulness and validity of their own version of the story. The Iranians want to be seen as willing to address all issues, especially the ones troubling officials, experts and concerned citizens in the West. It’s a brazen new PR policy, conscious and planned. What’s more intriguing, the Iranians will do it the American way!
See that other satellite picture of the Fordow facility accompanied by the question “What’s going on at Fordow?” It all too familiar. We’ve seen the likes of it so many times in Western media and think tanks prone to analyze satellite imagery. The visual antic, used thus far to point the finger to Iran, is now taken by Iran and turned around.
So if you’ve been entertained by Ambassador Soltanieh’s PPT presentations and rhetoric at the IAEA or by Bibi Netanyahu’s sketches at the UN General Assembly, cherish them as sweet memories. The pros are here to run the show now. The communications game around the Iranian nuclear program is taken by the Iranians on a whole new level. Keep up or give up!