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Rouhani: There's Limited Time to Resolve Nuclear Dispute

Iran’s president says the time for resolving Iran's nuclear dispute with the West is limited, urges world to seize the opportunity.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/11/2013, 5:14 AM

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani
AFP photo

Iran’s president said on Tuesday that the time for resolving Iran's nuclear dispute with the West was limited, urging the world to seize the opportunity of his election.

"The world must know completely that this period of time for resolving the nuclear issue will not be unlimited. We have a specified period of time," President Hassan Rouhani, who took office last month, said in a live interview on state television. The comments were carried by the Reuters news agency.

"The world must also use this period of time and this opportunity that our people created in this election. We will also use this opportunity. God willing, I am hopeful we can, step by step, solve this problem," he added.

Rouhani, who succeeded Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has pledged moderation in Iran's foreign and domestic policies and called for "constructive interaction" with the world. At the same time he made it clear, in a speech to clerics earlier Tuesday, that Iran will not give up "one iota" of its nuclear rights.

Rouhani said he would meet with the foreign ministers from some of the six powers - Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and Germany - when he attends the UN General Assembly in New York this month.

"I believe that if the opposite side has a serious will, the nuclear issue can be resolved in a not very long time," he said.

"In the nuclear issue, the end of the game must be a win-win game. Win-lose has no meaning," he added. "We can have a win-win game, we are ready for a win-win game. I think the beginning of this work will start in New York."

Iran has been engaged in on-off negotiations with major world powers and the United Nations about its nuclear program for more than a decade, and has been subjected to several rounds of UN and Western economic sanctions.

The last round of talks with the big powers - the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany - was held in April in Kazakhstan, before Rouhani's election but, just like previous rounds, ended with no progress.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton are set to meet in New York later this month to discuss restarting negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

While the West has said that Rouhani is a moderate, Israel has warned that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, particularly when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program.