World News

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

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is vowing 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."

    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.

    Mr. Rouhani, who was elected in June, is considered more moderate than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has for months suggested Iran should improve relations with the West.

    Some in Washington have been skeptical, saying true power lies with Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But Mr. 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 U.S. President Barack Obama, tells VOA that Mr. 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. So in that sense, it appears that the proposals and engagement do have his direct sponsorship and support."



    Mr. Rouhani's comments come just before he travels to the U.S. next week for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

    Pavel, who is the Director of the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, says it is conceivable that Mr. Rouhani could come prepared to make further good-will 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."



    White House officials say there are no current plans for President Obama to meet Mr. Rouhani during his visit. But they have acknowledged Mr. Obama recently exchanged letters with President Rouhani - a rare step for the two countries, which do not have diplomatic relations with one another.

    Obama spokesman Jay Carney said Mr. Obama's letter indicated the U.S. is ready to resolve the nuclear issue in a way that would allow Iran to demonstrate its program was exclusively for peaceful purposes. Mr. Rouhani told NBC News that Mr. Obama's letter was "positive and constructive."

    Iran on Wednesday also freed at least 11 prominent political prisoners, including human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who had defended opposition activists and had been jailed for three years.

    The U.S. State Department welcomed the move, noting President Rouhani's repeated pledges during his presidential campaign "to restore and expand freedoms for all Iranians."

    It called for President Rouhani to "keep his promises to the Iranian people" and urged steps to improve the country's human rights condition, including the release all of its prisoners of conscience.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.