Rouhani seeks quick resolution to nuclear standoff

26 September 2013

Iran president visits UN General Assembly in New York as P5+1 talks set to continue

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said he wants to reach a solution to Tehran’s nuclear standoff with the West within the next six months, during a visit to New York for the UN General Assembly.

Rouhani, who was sworn into office at the beginning of August, has been on a well-publicised charm offensive in the US, demonstrating a will to alleviate tensions between Tehran and Washington. As of 26 September, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was due to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry and diplomats from other world powers as part of the ongoing P5+1 negotiations.

“The only way forward is for a timeline to be inserted into the negotiations that is short,” Rouhani said in an interview with the Washington Post. “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,” he added.

Iran has been in talks with the five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany over the legality of its uranium-enrichment programme since 2006, but discussions stalled under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government.

Since Rouhani won the Iranian presidential election, he has maintained that Iran is willing to find a solution to the standoff and, according to the interview, has been given the freedom to conduct talks by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayotollah Khamenei.

In another interview with US news network CNN, Rouhani acknowledged and condemned the Holocaust in a groundbreaking statement that opposed the rhetoric of his predecessor, who controversially denied the extermination of Jews during the Second World War.

Although the statement has caused a stir in domestic politics, with Iranian state media claiming that CNN distorted Rouhani’s answers to questions on the Holocaust.

Rouhani is making all the right noises to thaw relations between Iran and the US, but real progress must be made around the negotiating table for his efforts to have any impact on sanctions.

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