TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that Iran is open to discussing “details” of nuclear activities including the enrichment of uranium, hinting that the Islamic Republic is willing to broaden the terms of negotiations with world powers.
He spoke shortly after receiving support from a wide range of legislators for his policy of reaching out to the West.
Rouhani emphasized Tehran’s longstanding position that its fundamental right to enrich uranium, a key ingredient of nuclear weapons that Iran says it needs for peaceful purposes, is not up for discussion. But his statement was a veiled hint that Iran is open to negotiating on the level of uranium enrichment as part of a deal in return for lifting of sanctions.
Rouhani was elected this summer with the backing of centrists and reformists, pledging a new approach to relations with the West. During a visit to New York for the U.N. General Assembly last week, he held a historic phone conversation with President Obama, a gesture aimed at ending three decades of estrangement between the two countries.
In his remarks yesterday after meeting with the Cabinet, Rouhani said Iran has drawn up a “precise plan” to put on the table at the next round of talks with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany in Geneva later this month.
“Iran’s enrichment right is not negotiable, but we must enter into talks to see what would the other side proposes to us about the details,” he said.
Uranium enrichment is a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel but further enrichment makes it suitable for use in nuclear weapons.
The U.S. and its allies fear that uranium enrichment could be used in developing a nuclear weapons capacity. Iran says its program is peaceful and geared toward generating electricity and producing isotopes to treat cancer patients.