Iran: We Are Not a Threat

The U.S. disagrees, however, which complicates future negotiations between the two nations.

Hasan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Sept. 24, 2013, 2:39 p.m.

Ir­a­ni­an Pres­id­ent Has­san Rouh­ani said Tues­day he listened care­fully to Pres­id­ent Obama’s speech to the United Na­tions Gen­er­al As­sembly. He must have heard then, the pres­id­ent say that U.S. dip­lo­mat­ic ef­forts will soon be­come fo­cused on “Ir­an’s pur­suit of nuc­le­ar weapons.”

In his own speech, Rouh­ani re­it­er­ated his re­cent state­ments about his gov­ern­ment’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram. Spe­cific­ally, that Tehran doesn’t have any nuc­le­ar weapons, which “have no place in Ir­an’s se­cur­ity and de­fense doc­trine and con­tra­dict our fun­da­ment­al and eth­ic­al con­vic­tions.” He ad­ded, as trans­lated by an in­ter­pret­er. “Ir­an poses ab­so­lutely no threat to the world or the re­gion.”

Rouh­ani called threats posed by Ir­an “ima­gin­ary,” say­ing, “Those who harp on the so-called threat of Ir­an are either a threat against in­ter­na­tion­al peace and se­cur­ity them­selves.” Ir­an, he said, is the “an­chor of sta­bil­ity” in an un­stable re­gion.

While Obama and Rouh­ani can’t agree on the state of Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram, they ap­pear to have found com­mon ground about what’s next: “mu­tu­al re­spect” in fu­ture talks. Such ne­go­ti­ations would end a 34-year freeze on U.S.-Ir­an dip­lo­mat­ic re­la­tions.

For Rouh­ani, though, it’s not time for that just yet. The Ir­a­ni­an pres­id­ent de­clined to meet with Obama on the side­lines of Tues­day’s events, ac­cord­ing to pool re­ports, ex­plain­ing that such an en­counter is “too com­plic­ated” at this time.

Still, Rouh­ani’s goal is “to re­move any and all reas­on­able con­cerns about Ir­an’s peace­ful nuc­le­ar pro­gram.” The White House’s in­stance that Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram is any­thing but peace­ful, however, com­plic­ates that.

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