Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has stated that Western governments must recognise his country’s right to enrich uranium in any deal to allay their concerns about its nuclear programme.
In a statement on Sunday, Rouhani said that the recognition should extend to “all rights of the Iranian nation, particularly nuclear rights and the right to enrich uranium on its territory within the framework of international rules”.
He was referring to the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
His comments, at an annual military parade, came on the eve of his departure for the UN General Assembly in New York.
“If they (Western governments) accept these rights, the Iranian people are a rational people, peaceful and friendly. We stand ready to cooperate and together we can settle all the region’s problems and even global ones,” Rouhani said.
“The Iranian people want development and are not looking to make an atomic weapon.”
Rouhani’s readiness to initiate talks with Western countries has been supported by Iran’s theocratic leader and highest authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but stands in stark contrast against sentiments expressed by Iran’s Elite Revolutionary Guard (IRGC).
The Iranian people want development and are not looking to make an atomic weapon.
The IRGC, which is an elite force that was established to protect Iran’s revolution in 1979, warned the country’s diplomats about the dangers of dealing with US officials.
“Historical experiences make it necessary for the diplomatic apparatus of our country to carefully and sceptically monitor the behaviour of White House officials so that the righteous demands of our nation are recognised and respected by those who favour interaction,” a statement from the IRGC said.
Iran’s nuclear programme has been met with tough economic sanctions from the West over suspicion it is striving for weapons capability. Iran still contends the programme is purely peaceful.
Rouhani, a moderate on Iran’s political scene, has made several diplomatic overtures since his election in June, and there has been speculation that he could also meet US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
A US official has privately acknowledged the administration’s desire to engineer a handshake between the two leaders, which would be the highest-level US-Iranian contact since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.