Rouhani tells the UN that Iran poses no threat
Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, offered immediate negotiations with the US over his country’s nuclear programme in a speech at the United Nations (UN) on Wednesday.
Rouhani, who succeeded Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June, has demonstrated his will to soften his predecessor’s hardline stance on the nuclear programme issue since his election.
However, experts and analysts have dampened their expectations after the Iranian president made it clear that he wanted Western countries to recognise Iran’s right to enrich uranium.
He also stressed that Iran’s mastery of the technology could no longer be reversed as it had reached such an “industrial scale” and that the country posed “absolutely no threat to the world or region” as its nuclear programme is peaceful.
“Let me say loud and clear that peace is within reach,” Mr Rouhani said. In his UN speech earlier in the day, Barack Obama welcomed the move and expressed optimism about this week’s talks.
He said: “We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian programme is peaceful. To succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”
President Obama directed US secretary of state John Kerry to pursue this effort with the Iranian government, in close coordination with the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China.
A senior administration official described the move as “a significant elevation” in the status of the talk.
Obama said: “Our national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme.” He further added that Iran “is prepared to engage immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and the removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency”.
The nuclear issue has been a cause of tense relations between the US and Iran for the last 11 years and has led to severe sanctions against the Middle Eastern country.
Rouhani has also called on Barack Obama to ignore “warmongering pressure groups” and encouraged the US president to find a diplomatic solution to the impasse over Syria.