In a speech to the U.N. Wednesday, new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pushed for pragmatism and “peace,” stressing that his country was no threat to the world.
Rouhani took the opportunity too to restate Iran’s strong position against a U.S. military incursion against Syria. Rouhani riffed on a desire for peace, avoiding the aggressive rhetoric used in the past by Iranian officials promising revenge were the U.S. to attack Assad’s regime.
With regards to Iran’s nuclear program, Rouhani offered a message both moderate and practical, urging an immediate return to the negotiation table and a break to the years’ long diplomatic impasse. Via The Guardian:
The framework Rouhani suggested for dealing with the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear aspirations offered a trade between increased Iranian transparency and international recognition of Iran’s right to enrich.
“Our national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme,” he said, adding that Iran “is prepared to engage immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and the removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency.”
On the other hand, he said that the country’s mastery of the technology had reached such an “industrial scale”, and so could not longer be reversed. So the world should instead recognise Iran’s basic right to carry out all parts of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Both Rouhani and President Obama are sending their foreign minister and secretary of state respectively to begin nuclear talks on Thursday (Obama and Rouhani did not shake hands during the Iranian’s visit — a fact that was taken as emblematic of a distance from detente, but that Rouhani claimed was simply “too complicated” to organize). As U.S.-Iran relations expert Ali Gharib pointed out for Al-Jazeera, “Despite their differences, each side has clear motivation to seek a deal”:
Iran’s economy has suffered considerable pain under Western sanctions, and its need to break out of its isolation and reintegrate into the global community can only be realized by resolving the nuclear dispute. For the U.S., the failure of seven years of sanctions to force Iranian capitulation has raised the prospect of the standoff escalating toward a potentially disastrous confrontation.