(TEHRAN, Iran) — Hopes that Iran will moderate its position on its controversial nuclear program seemed to crumble Tuesday following a statement by President Hassan Rouhani.
With Tehran’s negotiating team set to meet with the United Nations nuclear watchdog group later this month, Rouhani said somewhat defiantly, “Our government will not give up one iota of its absolute rights.”
This would apparently throw cold water on a quick solution to the long-running stalemate between Iran and the rest of the international community on how to best defuse the hot-button nuclear issue.
Last week, Rouhani announced that Mohammad Javad Zarif, a reputed pragmatist, will lead the nuclear talks for his country.
Zarif, who was educated in the U.S., took over for Saeed Jalili, whose thinking was more in line with Iran’s ultraconservative theocratic rulers.
However, the Iranian president’s latest statement suggests that Tehran is not about to freeze its uranium enrichment program, a key step to building nuclear weapons. Iran has claimed for years that its program is strictly for peaceful purposes.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN