Rouhani: Security cooperation with US only after nuke deal

Iranian president condemns sanctions, tells UN Iran hopes for deal on nuclear program before November 24 deadline

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil is the Times of Israel's Washington correspondent.

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 25, 2014 at the United Nations in New York. (Photo credit: AFP/Don Emmert)
President of Iran Hassan Rouhani addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 25, 2014 at the United Nations in New York. (Photo credit: AFP/Don Emmert)

NEW YORK — Iran will not participate in security coordination with US against Islamic State until a nuclear agreement is reached and sanctions are lifted against Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday morning. In a speech before the General Assembly’s plenary, Rouhani addressed both the ongoing negotiations with the P5+1 over Iran’s nuclear program and the growing threat of “extremism and violence” in the region and the world.

“We hope that the negotiations will lead to a final accord in the short amount of time we have left,” Rouhani told a sparsely-attended session of the morning plenary, referring to the ongoing talks between Iran and the P5+1 member states.

Talks toward a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran have been underway in New York for one week now. The parties are working towards a November 24 deadline, and reports have differed as to whether progress is being made in diffusing some of the most fraught issues, including the fate of the heavy water plant at Arak.

Rouhani returned to a theme that he addressed during his first address to the UNGA in 2013, condemning US-led sanctions against Iran, which he described as a “strategic mistake made against a moderate and independent” country.

The Iranian leader promised that while reaching a “nuclear agreement can serve as the beginning of multilateral cooperation,” the “people of Iran can’t place trust in any security cooperation between their government with those who have imposed sanctions.”

“Arriving at a final comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran will be a historic opportunity for West to show that it does not oppose advancement and development of others, and does not discriminate when it comes to adhering to international rules and regulations,” Rouhani told the assembled representatives and heads of state. “This agreement can carry a global message: conflict resolution can happen through negotiation and respect, not through conflict and sanctions.”

Rouhani tweeted his entire speech on to his Twitter feed, which is followed globally by some 250,000 people.

The Iranian leader said that Iran did not come to negotiations because of “sanctions and threats” but still was engaged in “serious and honest negotiations.” At the same time, he reiterated Iran’s longstanding negotiating points, including that Iran has a right to enrich uranium on its own soil.

“We are committed to continue our peaceful program, including enrichment and to enjoy our full nuclear rights on Iranian soil within the framework of international law,” Rouhani said.

He emphasized what he described as Iran’s commitment to seeking a diplomatic solution to the international standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, warning that “those who may think of any other solutions would be committing a grave mistake in doing so.”

Despite a recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report released earlier this month that complained that Iran had failed to satisfy questions regarding the military aspects of its nuclear program, Rouhani claimed that “according to all international observers, the Islamic Republic of Iran has carried out its commitments in good faith.”

Since arriving in New York earlier this week, Rouhani has held a series of meetings with world leaders including France’s Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The meeting with Cameron, held on Wednesday, was the first top-level meeting between Iranian and British leaders in the over thirty years since the Islamic Revolution.

Although Israeli delegates to the UN conspicuously boycotted Rouhani’s maiden speech before the plenary, rising from their seats and leaving the room in advance of Rouhani’s 2013 address, the delegation was absent from UN proceedings Thursday to mark the first day of Rosh Hashanah.

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