Rouhani Dismisses Claims of Iran’s Nuclear Weapons

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Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani has said that his country would never build nuclear weapons, reports the BBC.

The announcement came on Wednesday in an interview with NBC in which Rouhani declared that Iran would never “seek weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons” and that he has “full power and complete authority” to make a nuclear deal with the West, reports the New York Times.

This latest conciliatory statement has capped a series of goodwill gestures and hints of new diplomatic flexibility from Iran’s ruling establishment – including Rosh Hashanah greetings to Jews worldwide via Twitter, the release of political prisoners, and an exchange of letters with President Obama, the New York Times reports.

Iran is currently under U.N. and Western sanctions over its controversial nuclear program. It claims it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes but the U.S. and its allies suspect Iran of trying to build a nuclear weapon, says the BBC.

Experts have said that the recent publicity campaign on Iran’s part has been carefully planned in advance, reports the New York Times. “Actually it’s a kind of blitz that Iran is doing. Their intent is very clear, that is to distinguish themselves – this is the anti-Ahmadinejad,” Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University, told the New York Times. “I’d say they’re succeeding. They’re also aware there’s a huge degree of skepticism in the West, particularly the United States, and there’s a standard body of opinion that nothing has changed in Iran.”

[New York Times]