Rohani hopes for progress on nuclear dispute

Iran’s president-elect insists West must accept Tehran’s right to enrich uranium

Hassan Rohani during a news conference in Tehran yesterday at which he said he would “revive ethics and constructive interaction with the world through moderation”. Photograph: Reuters/Fars News/Majid Hagdost

Hassan Rohani during a news conference in Tehran yesterday at which he said he would “revive ethics and constructive interaction with the world through moderation”. Photograph: Reuters/Fars News/Majid Hagdost

 

President-elect Hassan Rohani held out the prospect yesterday of better relations between Iran and the world, including the United States, and progress on resolving the long-running nuclear disagreement.

But the moderate cleric who scored a surprise election victory at the weekend insisted Washington and the West must recognise what he said was Tehran’s right to enrich uranium, not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs and end their hostility.

Mr Rohani said his incoming government, to be formed after his inauguration in August, would “revive ethics and constructive interaction with the world through moderation”.

“I hope that all countries use this opportunity,” he told his first news conference since his election win. Asked if he would be prepared to hold direct talks with the US, Mr Rohani replied: “The issue of relations between Iran and America is a complicated and difficult issue. It is an old wound that needs to be . . . healed,” he said.

Mr Rohani set three conditions for direct talks: “First of all the Americans have to say . . . that they will never interfere in Iran’s internal affairs. Second, they have to recognise all of the Iranian nation’s due rights, including nuclear rights. And third they have to put aside oppressive . . . policies towards Iran.”


‘Hopeful sign’
The White House said the election of Mr Rohani was a “potentially hopeful sign” if he lives up to what it said were his promises to “come clean” over the nuclear programme.

Western countries believe Iran’s nuclear programme is cover for plans to develop the means to one day build an atomic bomb. Washington and the European Union tightened financial and trade sanction on Iran last year, forcing sharp cuts to its oil exports and harming its economy.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for energy and medical purposes only, and its sovereign right under international treaties that guarantee countries access to peaceful atomic technology if they forgo weapons.

Mr Rohani was Iran’s nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005 during which time he negotiated a suspension of Tehran’s uranium enrichment. He said Iran would not halt those activities again.

“That period has ended,” he said, but added that Tehran would be more transparent about its activities in the future.

“Our nuclear programmes are completely transparent. But we are ready to show greater transparency and make clear for the whole world that the steps of the Islamic Republic of Iran are completely within international frameworks,” he said. – (Reuters)