Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said Wednesday that he would like to see a resolution to the international dispute over his country’s nuclear program within three to six months.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Rouhani said his “choice” would be a three-month timetable, and that six months would still be “good,” but this should be a matter of “months, not years.”
The urgency seems related to the immense pressure imposed on the Islamic Republic through four rounds of grueling economic sanctions. It may also reflect the Iranian leader’s fear of a political backlash from his conservative opponents.
Rouhani told the Post that he was willing to offer extensive “transparency” into his country’s nuclear program, akin to the additional International Atomic Energy Agency inspection measures Iran allowed between 2003 and 2005, when he was chief nuclear negotiator.
With respect to rapprochement with Washington, Rouhani was restrained. He stressed his desire to first address the nuclear issue, for which he has been given wide-ranging authority from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
After that, Rouhani said, the US and Iran can discuss broader issues of normalization. “Once the nuclear file is settled, we can turn to other issues,” he said. “We need a beginning point.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in New York with Rouhani for the UN General Assembly, was scheduled to meet with foreign ministers of the p5+1 countries — US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany — on Thursday.