TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s president has confirmed that the foreign ministry will lead nuclear talks with world powers in a shift away from security officials setting Tehran’s strategies for the critical negotiations.
Thursday’s report on the website of President Hasan Rouhani’s office gives the official stamp on a policy change first indicated last month after Rouhani’s inauguration.
It makes Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a veteran, Western-educated diplomat, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator.
Previously, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council was in charge of the nuclear dialogue with the US and other nations. The talks have been on hold for months after deadlocks over Western efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear program.
The West suspects Iran seek to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says it only seeks reactors for energy and medical research.
The announcement came weeks ahead of Rouhani’s first scheduled address before the UN General Assembly this month.
The United Nations has his speech scheduled for Sept. 24, hours after President Barack Obama addresses the annual General Assembly.
Rouhani, elected in June, is considered by some to be a relative moderate compared to his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who used speeches at the General Assembly to question the Holocaust and the official explanation that the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks were caused by hijacked planes.
The Security Council committee on Iran sanctions is meeting Thursday afternoon.