World News

New Iranian President Wants Nuclear Deal in 3-6 Months

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says he wants a deal with the West on his country's nuclear program in as little as three months.

President Rouhani told the Washington Post Wednesday Iran is willing to take unspecified transparency measures to show its nuclear program is peaceful.

The comments come a day before the resumption of international talks on Iran's uranium enrichment program, which many Western powers suspect is aimed at building a bomb.

Mr. Rouhani said the "only way forward" is for a timeline to be inserted into the talks. He said Tehran is open to a three or six-month timetable, but that a quicker deal is "more beneficial to everyone."



Echoing recent comments, Mr. Rouhani insisted Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khameini has given him full authority to solve the nuclear issue.

If such a deal could be reached, he said it could serve as a "beginning point" toward improving relations with Washington. The two countries have not had diplomatic relations since 1980.

In earlier comments Wednesday, Mr. Rouhani said he did not shake hands with President Barack Obama at the United Nations this week because the timing was not right but said he was open to a future meeting with the U.S. leader.

Thursday will see the highest level interaction in six years between Washington and Tehran, when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend the so-called P5+1 talks.

The meeting in New York includes the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. The talks, which will take place on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, are seen as a key test of Iran's commitment to resolving the nuclear issue.

At his speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday, Mr. Rouhani repeated Iran's long-standing demand that world leaders recognize its right to continue enriching uranium for peaceful purposes.

The U.S. and its allies suspect the program is secretly aimed at building a bomb, and have helped implement several rounds of sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

U.S. officials have welcomed Mr. Rouhani's less aggressive posture than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but say they are looking for concrete actions to back up his words.

Earlier, Mr. Rouhani appeared to distance himself further from Mr. Ahmadinejad. He told reporters the Nazi Holocaust against Jews was a crime that cannot be ignored. Mr. Ahmadinejad, who completed his two terms as president in August, repeatedly denied the Holocaust.

But Mr. Rouhani also said it is important that Holocaust victims not "victimize" others -- a reference to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

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