Iran's new leader Rouhani urges 'serious' nuclear talks


President Rouhani: "The Iranian nation's intent is to interact respectfully with the whole world"

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has called for "serious and substantive" negotiations with the international community about its nuclear programme.

At the first news conference since his inauguration on Sunday, Mr Rouhani said he was confident both sides' concerns could be resolved in a short time.

But a solution could be reached solely through "talks, not threats", he added.

The US has said Mr Rouhani's presidency presents an opportunity for Iran to resolve the world's "deep concerns".

"Should this new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue, it will find a willing partner in the United States," it added.


President Rouhani's message to the US government was that if it wished to engage directly with Iran, it needed to distance itself from "pressure groups" inside Congress who were "bewildering" it. He repeatedly pushed the narrative that pro-Israeli lobby groups were pushing the White House into a corner with regards to its sanctions policy.

Mr Rouhani was short on details about how he intended to resolve the nuclear issue. He said suspending uranium enrichment was not on the agenda, but easing Western concerns over Iran's nuclear programme was, leaving open the possibility of more rigorous IAEA inspections.

He did not answer a question about who would have the final say over such issues. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, can choose to marginalise Mr Rouhani, as he did with former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

For now, the president can enjoy the platform and decide what questions he is asked. Surprisingly, no journalists from hard-line newspapers got their turn.

Western powers suspect Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

Iran has repeatedly rejected demands by the so-called P5+1 - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany - to halt uranium enrichment.

US behaviour 'contradictory'

Addressing domestic and international journalists in Tehran on Tuesday, Mr Rouhani stated that Iran's uranium enrichment programme was peaceful and legal and would continue. But he also said he was determined to resolve the long-running dispute.

"We are ready - seriously and without wasting time - to engage in serious and substantive talks with the other sides. I am certain the concerns of the two sides would be removed through talks in a short period of time.

"However, demands outside any legal framework or illogical and outdated demands will not be useful. We should deal with the issue through a realistic approach."

But he stressed that Iran's rights must be preserved, adding: "The basis of our agenda should be talks, not threats."

Mr Rouhani said the US still did not have a thorough and proper understanding of what was happening in Iran, and that it had not responded in an "appropriate and practical" manner after June's presidential election.

Hassan Rouhani

  • Born in 1948
  • Islamic activist prior to Iran's 1979 Revolution
  • Influential figure in Iran-Iraq War
  • MP (1980-2000)
  • National security adviser to the president (1989-97, 2000-05)
  • Chief nuclear negotiator (2003-05)
  • Regarded as a centrist politician but favoured by reformists

"[Washington's] behaviour and words are contradictory," he said, adding that there was a "war-mongering group" there opposed to talks which was taking orders from a foreign country - presumably a reference to Israel.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed Mr Rouhani's call for negotiations.

"We absolutely agree with what he said. Resolving this, like any other issue, must be not on the basis of ultimatums, but based on a respectful attitude to a partner," he told reporters in Rome.

Earlier, Mr Lavrov's deputy said a new round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 must not be delayed and should take place by mid-September.

On Sunday, Mr Rouhani presented to Iran's parliament, the Majlis, a new cabinet dominated by technocrats who had previously served under a moderate former President, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Mr Rouhani also vowed at Tuesday's news conference that his government would be accountable and act transparently.

He said he would keep his promise to "report on the progress made and the achievements, as well as the shortcomings and failings".

"Without the people's support, the government will have no chance of meeting its long-term goals," he warned.

Mr Rouhani has inherited a range of problems from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, including high inflation, diminishing revenues and foreign reserves, possible food shortages, as well as sanctions.


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  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    IrR$e #12 " Iran was never a problem until Bush jr stupidly clumped in Iran into a an "axis of evil:

    Iran has become a problem the moment the pro-western modernizer, Reza Pahlavi was overthrown by medieval Muslim fanatics, with Jimmy Carter doing nothing about it. The new president wants to continue Iran's nuclear weapons program. So no change there, thus no easing of sanctions. Talk is cheap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    The new guy is controlled by the same boss who controlled the last one.

    As my Iranian friend told me, if Khamenei did not want Rouhani in power - he would not have got it.

    Iran wants a softer face to its belligerence after Ahmadinejad (who recently cited holocaust denial as one of his best achievements) made Iran extremely unpopular.

    Until the ruling Mullah and his minions go, nothing changes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Iran can help us defeat Al-Qaeda and address wider threats in the Middle-East region. Iran's economy has HUGE potential! If things work out properly, it can even compete with Turkey's economy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Some a little ironic about the 3rd sentance in this report "But a solution could be reached "solely through talks, not threats", he warned"

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    11: What right does the West have to restrict anyone's nuclear programme?

    Are you following the plot? The alternative was a pre-emptive Israeli attack on their Uranium enrichment facilities?

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    If this is for real and the intent is a genuine open hand, Rouhani might well be the Persian Obama...

    Sadly, because Iran has such huge oil reserves, a peaceful Iran administrating is own refineries is going to send the price of oil plunging. Lets hope the West responds with open arms. Instead of just selling oil to China and Russia, the oil would be open to the whole global market...

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Show me yours and I will show you mine

    what anti-semtism anti-americanism schism
    we are anti-nukes anti-wars anti-spies anti-drones anti-vampires

    warmongers shut up your hypocritical mouths
    shut down your babylon spies

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    3 Minutes ago
    What right does the West have to restrict anyone's nuclear programme?

    Any country that calls for the eradication of another country needs constraining.. To allow nuclear weapons to exist in Iran is just a gamble the west can ill afford.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.


    Let's be clear. It wasn't the West, it was the USA that used the bomb. It wasn't the West that decided to invade the Middle East and deploy Africom's North African destabilisation programme. It was the USA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Call me skeptical, but as the man just earlier this week called Israel an 'old wound' that needs to be removed, my confidence in the truthfulness of this statement is low - and he is the 'moderate'!

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Please god Iran get a huge big bomb soon!

    It's the only thing that's going to keep the USA in check!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Yes, definitely give this a chance. Iran was never a problem until Bush jr stupidly clumped in Iran into a an "axis of evil", which Ahmadinejad exploited to get himself elected president.

    Now that Ahmadinejad is no longer president, let's go back to where we left off in 2001 and try talking again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    What right does the West have to restrict anyone's nuclear programme?

    We have weapons and reactors, why shouldn't any other country in the world have them?

    What gives us rights that they do not have? After all, the only time nuclear weapons have been used was by the West.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Iran have so far broken no laws so far and are signatories to the NPT. The only issue with Iran's nuclear program is down to accounting rather than any real intent or evidence of them wishing to produce a nuclear weapon. Whilst they aren't signatories of the NPT, Israel won't admit to possessing hundreds of nuclear weapons.

    Go figure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Unless and until Iran is ready to surrender its nuclear weapons program there's nothing to talk about.Sanctions must be killing Iran but the new guy doesn't have the final say.Sanctions are the last step before war.If it appears Iran is close to acquiring the ability to produce nuclear explosions either the US will attack or Israel will.That aside it's time for Iran to end Hezbollah and terrorism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Any steps that moderate the position of Iran are positive.
    The vast majority of Iranians don't want nuclear technology and certainly don't want to be dragged into a war brought on by the extremists on all sides of the argument.
    I have my fingers crossed for my friends in Iran that Mr Rouhani works with the UN to avoid a needless war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Good. Iran is a proud nation with a very long glorious history and could be an asset to the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    It takes two to tango - and thus far we have evidence that the US, with or without Israeli help, has (cyber) attacked Iran.....

    .....whilst Iran has been going about their lawful business, without attacking the "other side" - N.B. Just because their fission power programme could produce weapons grade fissile materials does not sutomatically mean they intend making a bomb......


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