Iran wants nuclear deal in months, says President Rouhani

 
Bushehr nuclear power station in Iran (file image) Iran insists its uranium enrichment work is for nuclear energy only

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says he wants to reach a deal with world powers on Tehran's nuclear programme in three to six months.

He told the Washington Post he saw a resolution of the issue as a "beginning point" in easing US-Iran relations.

Mr Rouhani said he was fully empowered by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to negotiate on the issue.

On Thursday, Iran will hold talks with the P5+1 group of world powers on Tehran's uranium enrichment programme.

Rouhani said he wanted to reach a nuclear deal 'in months'

In a rare encounter between US and Iranian officials, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry as well as diplomats from the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany in New York.

Analysis

In recent years, the travelling brigade of nuclear negotiators has seen much of the world. Air miles aside, they have achieved almost nothing of substance. Diplomats have held talks in Geneva, Istanbul, Baghdad, Moscow, and Almaty. The most recent meeting was in Kazakhstan's biggest city in April 2013.

At times it has been hard to describe the nuclear talks as actual negotiations. More accurately, they have often resembled parallel monologues. But the P5+1 is about to meet a new Iranian team.

Iran's newly appointed Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, replaces Saed Jalili as chief negotiator. Mr Zarif will report directly to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani - himself a former nuclear negotiator.

President Rouhani has been in New York this week for the UN General Assembly, and has been giving interviews to US media.

Iranian media has accused CNN of "distorting" comments he made in answer to a question about the Holocaust.

'Everything is possible'

Asked about a timeframe for resolving the nuclear issue, President Rouhani told the Washington Post: "The only way forward is for a timeline to be inserted into the negotiations that is short.

"The shorter it is the more beneficial it is to everyone. If it's three months that would be Iran's choice, if it's six months that's still good. It's a question of months not years."

Despite years of hostility between the US and Iran, Mr Rouhani said that if he and President Barack Obama got together they would both be "looking at the future".

"The notes and letters and exchanges between us are in that direction, and they will continue," he said.

"We need a beginning point. I think that is the nuclear issue."

Start Quote

So far the hopes of a thaw in relations between Iran and the West have been based on atmospherics, not substance.”

End Quote

He added: "After resolution of the nuclear issue there are no impossibilities in term of advancing other things forward. Everything is possible after the settlement."

On Tuesday, Mr Rouhani told the UN General Assembly that he was prepared to engage in "time-bound and results-oriented" talks on the nuclear issue.

Iran has been negotiating with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, since 2006 about its nuclear programme.

On Thursday, Mr Rouhani - speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement at the General Assembly - called from stricter controls on nuclear weapons as part of a global effort to eventually rid the world of them.

Hassan Rouhani: "The indefinite possession of nuclear weapons cannot be tolerated"

"No nation should possess nuclear weapons; since there are no right hands for these wrong weapons," he said.

He called on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty and put the nuclear arms it is widely suspected of having under international control.

'Good discussion'

The West suspects Tehran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, a claim strongly denied by Iran.

President Obama has welcomed the new Iranian president's more "moderate course".

He said the US wanted to resolve the nuclear issue peacefully, but was determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

On Wednesday, Mr Zarif met French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

He said they "had a good discussion about the start of nuclear talks and the talks that will take place tomorrow".

Iran's economy has been badly affected by years of sanctions imposed by the UN and Western countries over the nuclear issue.

Rouhani's 'Holocaust' comments

CNN translation: "I have said before that I am not a historian personally and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust as such, it is the historians that should reflect on it. But in general, I can tell you that any crime or - that happens in history against humanity, including the crime that the Nazis committed towards the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, is reprehensible and condemnable."

Fars translation: "I have said before that I am not a historian and historians should specify state and explain the aspects of historical events. However, in general, we fully condemn any kind of crime committed against humanity throughout history, including the crime committed by the Nazis both against the Jews and non-Jews."

Tensions were not helped by anti-Israel and anti-Western comments made by the previous President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during his time in office - including frequent denials of the Holocaust.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked Mr Rouhani about his position on the Holocaust.

According to a CNN transcript of the interview, he said: "I have said before that I am not a historian personally and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust as such, it is the historians that should reflect on it.

"But in general, I can tell you that any crime or - that happens in history against humanity, including the crime that the Nazis committed towards the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, is reprehensible and condemnable, as far as we are concerned. And just as even such crimes are - if they are to happen today against any creed or belief system or human being as such, we shall again condemn it."

But Iran's Fars news agency said the president never used the word "Holocaust", and gave its own translation of his comments:

"I have said before that I am not a historian and historians should specify state and explain the aspects of historical events.

"However, in general, we fully condemn any kind of crime committed against humanity throughout history, including the crime committed by the Nazis both against the Jews and non-Jews, the same way that if today any crime is committed against any nation, any religion, any people or any belief, we condemn that crime and genocide."

Clarification 28 September: CNN points out that its translation of President Rouhani's comments was made by the president's own translator. However BBC Monitoring staff have listened to the original remarks in Persian and translate the words used as "historical events" rather than "Holocaust".

 

More on This Story

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +23

    Comment number 270.

    It may be an olive branch plucked from a tree of internal Iranian politics, but it is worth grasping.
    What does it matter if it leads to reduced sanctions and the current administration staying in power, if it reduces nuclear proliferation, can make the lives of the Iranian people better, and stop the country falling under the thrall of aggressively militant Islamism.

  • rate this
    +36

    Comment number 51.

    Iran has a right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful projects (electricity). We and the USA do not have to "ask permission" or gain the world's trust.
    If Iran tried to stop the West's nuclear projects on the grounds we were liars how would we react? No doubt the same as Iran has acted - defiant.
    We called Saddam a liar over his WMDs and he was proved to be telling the truth.

  • rate this
    +67

    Comment number 40.

    If this olive branch is ignored by the West, and politicians continue to snipe at Iran Rouhani he will be discreditied by the Iranian hardliners. The chance will be lost and the staus quo restored.
    There is a lot riding on the West's response for further liberalisation in Iran.
    We must not let vested interests and those who need a bogey man to destroy this chance for a return to normality.

  • rate this
    -38

    Comment number 29.

    Personally I think Nuclear bombs and Chemical weapons should be had for any country that choses to as long as they dont use them

    There is no reason to think the countries that have thse weapons will ever use them

    WHy do we get offended when they manufacture or test them?.

 
 

More Middle East stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Arash AF8Naughty Brits

    From scrappy upstarts to legendary brands, six speed demons that hail from the UK

Programmes

  • A man holds a sign which reads Bring Back Our GirlsHARDtalk Watch

    Why there is still hope and optimism for the rescue of Nigeria’s kidnapped schoolgirls

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.