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.
    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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora