Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attacks 'violent' sanctions, but confirms he is ready for talks with West in UN address


The United Nations

The newly elected president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, confirmed Iran’s readiness to engage immediately in “time-bound and results-oriented” talks with western powers to resolve the stand-off over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions under certain conditions while also excoriating them for imposing “violent” sanctions on his country.

While sounding some familiarly antagonistic themes, including a scolding of the US for its use of drones and employing military threats on the world stage, Mr Rouhani nonetheless set himself apart from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, notably by eschewing all rhetorical attacks on Israel or Zionism. 

Yet after days of anticipation that he would offer a clearly softer and more moderate Iranian face, Mr Rouhani may not have quite lived up to the billing in his speech to the UN General Assembly. Speculation meanwhile that he would at least exchange historic greetings with President Barack Obama fizzled when Iran declined. Instead, Mr Rouhani had brief direct talks here with the French President Francois Hollande.

His criticism of the sanctions imposed mostly through UN resolutions over recent years to force Iran to halt enrichment and its nuclear weapons programme was particularly fierce. “These sanctions are violent, pure and simple,” he told the UN General Assembly in New York, asserting that regular citizens, not political elites, suffer the most because of them. “The negative impact is not nearly limited to the intended victims of sanctions.”

While accepting the early resumption of talks with the West represented by US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, he stressed they could proceed only on the understanding that Iran has the right to continue enrichment and nuclear techology development for non-military, civilian purposes. And, as widely expected, he explicitly ruled out Iran using the technology to build an atomic arsenal as the west fears it means to.

“Iran’s nuclear programme and for that matter of all counties must pursue exclusively peaceful purposes,” Mr Rouhani, who took office in August, asserted. “I declare here openly and non-ambiguously… this has been and will always be the objective of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He added that weapons of mass destruction will have “no place” in his country.

He also said he was ready to talk directly to the US to “manage differences,” adding that Iran “does not seek to increase tension with the United States”.

But Israel reiterated its belief that Iran cannot be trusted on the issue and President Obama in his address, while welcoming the new expressions of relative moderation from Mr Rouhani, also insisted that those words must be followed by actions. But Mr Obama said he had authorised Secretary of State John Kerry to hold first talks with his Iranian counterpart Jivad Zarif on the sidelines of the UN meeting in New York on Thursday.

Citing serial grievances, most clearly aimed at the US, Mr Rouhani said the use of “drones against the innocent in the name of combating terrorism” should be condemned and raised what he called the “criminal assassination of nuclear scientists” in Iran. “People all over the world are tired of war, violence and extremism,” he said, offering instead what he called “a blend of hope and moderation”.

Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus updates from Everton vs Palace
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam