Iran-West thaw on the cards? Rouhani says will never seek N-weapons

Reflecting his willingness to soften the diplomatic ties with the West, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani struck a conciliatory tone when he said in an interview that his country would never build nuclear weapons.

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2013, 18:42 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Tehran: Reflecting his willingness to soften the diplomatic ties with the West, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani struck a conciliatory note when he said in an interview that his country would never build nuclear weapons.

In what seemed a significant step ahead on the path to reconciliation with the West, Rouhani said, "We have time and again said that under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever".

Rouhani’s appeasing comments came in an interview to US news channel NBC, just days before he is to address UN General Assembly first time after being elected the president in June.

Rouhani added that he had “complete authority" to negotiate a nuclear deal with the United States and other Western powers.

Rouhani’s comments seem high on positive vibes after a “constructive” letter exchange with US President Barack Obama last week in which Obama had congratulated Rouhani.

Speaking of the letter exchange, Rouhani said that the tone of the letters was “positive and constructive and "It could be subtle and tiny steps for a very important future."

The White House also confirmed the letter exchange with Iran President, with a statement saying “Obama indicated that the US is ready to resolve the nuclear issue in a way that allows Iran to demonstrate that its nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes”.

Iran and the West have been at loggerheads over the nuclear issue with doubts being raised on Iran nuclear programme. West doubts that Iran is constructing nuclear weapons covertly but Iran has maintained that its atomic energy developments are solely for peaceful purposes.

Iran and the IAEA are set to meet for the 11th round of talks Sep 27 in Vienna, aiming on a "structured approach" toward a nuclear inspection framework which would then provide the basis for nuclear talks with p5+1 (UK, US,France, Russia, Britain and Germany).

Reacting to Rouhani’s remarks, the White House said in a statement that Obama would test the “assertions” by Iran.

"The world has heard a lot from President Rouhani`s administration about its desire to improve the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran`s relations with the international community, and President Obama believes we should test that assertion," White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.