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Rouhani: Iran “Will Not Give Up One Iota”of Nuclear Rights

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday made statements defending Tehran’s nuclear rights, deploying rhetoric that AFP described as “echoing his hardline predecessor” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

The comments come ahead of meeting later this month between his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on restarting negotiations on the Islamic republic’s disputed nuclear ambitions.

“Our government will not give up one iota of its absolute rights” on the nuclear issue, said Rowhani, a reputed moderate, repeating a mantra frequently used by his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The statements come a day after the chief of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog (IAEA) emphasized that it was “essential and urgent” for Tehran to address international concerns surrounding its atomic program. A recent IAEA called specific attention to Iran’s efforts to lock in advanced uranium enrichment technology, to bring online its plutonium reactor, and to destroy evidence of work possibly related to the development of nuclear weapons.

Rouhani’s response to the IAEA’s call for greater transparency is in line with a similar statements made by an advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month, to the effect that the revolutionary-era cleric’s government will follow “the same trend strategically as the former government” of Ahmadinejad. It comes alongside the Rouhanis’s vocal support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime, and may heighten skepticism regarding the new president’s self-described moderation.

[Photo: Nima1024 / Wiki Commons]