Iran's new president pledges to never develop nuclear weapons
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a major U.S. TV news network on Wednesday that his administration will never develop nuclear weapons and that he has full authority to make a deal with Western powers on his country's atomic program.
NBC News reported that in an interview with it, Rouhani also talked about his initial interactions with U.S. President Barack Obama, who sent him a letter of congratulations after his election and raised "some issues."
"From my point of view, the tone of the letter was positive and constructive," Rouhani said. "It could be subtle and tiny steps for a very important future. I believe the leaders in all countries could think in their national interests and they should not be under the influence of pressure groups. I hope to witness such an atmosphere in the future."
In an interview with ABC News broadcast on Sunday, Obama said he exchanged letters with Rouhani, and the Iranians understand the nuclear issue is "a far larger issue for us than the chemical weapons issue."
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that the letter -- in which Obama said the U.S. is open to a resolution that allows Iran to prove its nuclear program is peaceful -- conveyed the need to act quickly because the window for a diplomatic deal " will not remain open indefinitely."
The United States severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980 as some radical Iranian students occupied the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
As Obama ran for president in 2008, he voiced his rapprochement intention with Iran. However, Tehran did not interact and continued its nuclear development.
This summer, after Rouhani was elected as president, he promised to end Iran's international isolation.
His recent conciliatory comments showed his willingness to reach a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear standoff with the West.
Exchanged letters between Obama and Rouhani have also paved the way for a possible meeting between the two at the UN next week, which would be the first face-to-face encounter between U.S. and Iranian leaders since 1979.