News / Middle East

Iran's Rouhani: We've Never Pursued Nuclear Weapons

FILE - Hassan Rouhani, in this image still president-elect, speaks with the media during a news conference in Tehran June 17, 2013.
FILE - Hassan Rouhani, in this image still president-elect, speaks with the media during a news conference in Tehran June 17, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has vowed his country will never pursue a nuclear bomb, in the latest sign the newly elected leader is open to improving relations with the United States.
 
In an interview from Tehran with NBC News, President Rouhani said Iran has never sought nuclear weapons and that it would under no circumstances "seek any weapons of mass destruction."
 
Rouhani also said his people should be free to think, speak and seek information on the Internet, subject to "the protection of our national identity."  He said a "commission for citizens' rights" will be established "in the near future."
 
The Iranian leader spoke just days before he is to make his first appearance as president on the world stage when he attends the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
 
Iran has for years insisted its nuclear program is peaceful.  The U.S. and some of its allies disagree, and have helped implement several rounds of sanctions that have battered Iran's economy.
 
Rouhani's election in June appears to have spurred new diplomatic outreach from Iran's ruling establishment.
 
In recent weeks, the Iranian leadership has sent Rosh Hashanah greetings to Jews worldwide via Twitter, released political prisoners, exchanged letters with U.S. President Barack Obama and transferred responsibility for nuclear negotiations from the conservatives in the military to the Foreign Ministry.
 
Some in Washington have been skeptical, saying true power lies with Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But Rouhani said his government has "full power," "complete authority," and "sufficient political latitude" to solve the nuclear issue.
 
Barry Pavel a former defense policy adviser to Obama, tells VOA that Rouhani's recent statements reflect a "real opportunity" to engage Iran on its nuclear program.
 
"There is one senior decision maker, and that's the supreme leader," he said. :So in that sense, it appears that the proposals and engagement do have his direct sponsorship and support."
 
Pavel, who is the director of the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, says it is conceivable that Rouhani could come prepared to make further goodwill gestures.
 
"It's possible he'll make a dramatic concession.  That would be the appropriate timing and venue.  But there should also be discussion of this in the more confidential setting of the P5+1 talks," said Pavel referring to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany.
 
White House officials say there are no current plans for Obama to meet Rouhani during his visit.  They have, however, acknowledged Obama recently exchanged letters with Rouhani - a rare step for the two countries, which do not have diplomatic relations.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid