President-elect Hassan Rouhani has expressed hope that Iran can reach a new agreement with Western powers over its disputed nuclear programme, saying a deal should be reached through more transparency and mutual trust.
“The idea is to engage in more active negotiations with the 5+1, as the nuclear issue cannot be resolved without negotiations,” Rouhani said on Monday, referring to the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany.
During his first press conference since being declared winner of Iran’s presidential election on Saturday, Rouhani also described as unfair and unjustified US and EU sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic over the nuclear issue.
But Rouhani also ruled out a halt to his country’s controversial enrichment of uranium. “This period is over,” Rouhani said, referring to international demands for an end to the programme.
There were “many ways to build trust” with the West, he added, as Iran would be “more transparent to show that its activities fall within the framework of international rules”.
“Our nuclear programmes are completely transparent. But we are ready to show greater transparency and make clear for the whole world that the steps of the Islamic Republic of Iran are completely within international frameworks,” he said.
“I hope that all countries use this opportunity,” the president-elect said.
The news conference came to an abrupt end when a man in the audience sprang up and shouted a slogan in favour of reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, held under house arrest since 2011.
“Mir Hossein should be here” the man shouted live on state television as security guards bundled him away.
Committed to dialogue
On Monday UN nuclear agency chief told the Reuters news agency that Iran was making “steady progress” in expanding its nuclear programme despite international sanctions.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also said he remained committed to dialogue with Iran to address concerns of possible military dimensions to its nuclear activity.
But no new meeting had yet been set after 10 rounds of talks since early 2012, he said.
Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said it hoped the new Iranian government would make efforts to reach a negotiated settlement on its nuclear programme following Rouhani’s election.
Hague said efforts to reach a settlement would be met “in good faith” by Britain, adding that Iran should not doubt British resolve to prevent nuclear proliferation.
Rouhani won Friday’s presidential election with more than 18 million of the votes.
The country’s Interior minister, Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, said 72 percent of the 50 million eligible Iranians had turned out to vote, and that Rouhani had secured just over the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a run-off.
His closest rival, Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, garnered six million votes.
Though an establishment figure, Rouhani was known for his nuanced, conciliatory approach when he was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator.
He inherits an economy that has been badly hit by Western sanctions targeting the key oil and banking sectors because of its nuclear programme.
Rouhani has previously vowed to restore diplomatic ties with the US, which cut relations in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution and seizure of the US embassy by Islamist students.
The US was behind a 1953 coup that overthrew the democratically-elected prime minister and put into power the Shah who ruled Iran until the 1979 revolution.