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Iran wants nuclear deal within months, says Rohani

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-26

Newly elected President Hassan Rohani said in a newspaper interview that he wanted to conclude a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme within three to six months. Iran is set to hold talks with the P5+1 group of world powers at the UN on Thursday.

Foreign ministers from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (P5 + 1) are set to sit down with their Iranian counterpart on Thursday for what could be the start of earnest talks about Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme, in the wake of  Iran’s President Hassan Rohani stating that he wanted to reach a deal within three to six months.

“The only way forward is for a timeline to be inserted into the negotiations that is short. The shorter it is, the more beneficial it is to everyone,” Rohani said in an interview with the Washington Post newspaper published on Wednesday.

The comments come a day after he told the UN General Assembly that Iran presented no threat to world peace and was ready to engage with the United States.

Rohani told the newspaper on the sidelines of the UN gathering in New York that, “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.”

There was a real optimism at the UN over the possibility of a breakthrough in the stalled nuclear negotiations, according to FRANCE 24’s correspondent at the UN in New York Emmanuel Saint-Martin.

“It is a cautious optimism,” Saint-Martin noted. “One Western diplomat told me today that while we have seen a lot of gestures and a lot of good signals have been sent, so far there is nothing concrete. So people are very eager for this meeting.”

Rohani, described as a moderate cleric, won the presidential election in June on a platform of more openness with the West and progress on the nuclear issue. US President Barack Obama and French President François Hollande welcomed Rohani’s encouraging address in New York this week, but demanded more than rhetoric.

Ambitious timeline

“In the West, diplomats hope to find out what Iran’s real objectives are and how those objectives can be reached,” Saint-Martin said. “The goal of three to six months laid out by President Rohani is very ambitious given the history of negotiations between Iran and the West.”

Caution from Western powers were also spurred by concern that Rohani will not have the final say on any deal, since ultimate authority in Iran lies with the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the so-called six powers were launched in 2006, but have so far faltered. Thursday’s meeting will mark the highest-level, direct contact between the US and Iran in six years as Secretary of State John Kerry comes face-to-face with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif.

The West suspects Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons and has imposed crippling sanctions on Tehran that have slashed its vital oil exports and severely restricted its international bank transfers. As a result, inflation has surged and the value of the local currency has plunged.

Tehran has repeatedly stated that its nuclear programme is strictly for energy needs and peaceful civilian purposes.

Date created : 2013-09-26

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