Rowhani firm on Iran nuke policy

AFP-JIJI

Iran’s newly elected president, Hasan Rowhani, ruled out any halt to the nuclear activity that has drawn U.N. sanctions but said he hoped an early deal could be reached to allay the concerns of major powers.

The moderate cleric, who won outright victory in Friday’s presidential election on the hopes of millions for an end to the economic hardship caused by Western sanctions, pledged greater transparency in the long-running talks.

Rowhani, addressing his first news conference since winning the vote, said Monday there would be no change in Iran’s long-standing alliance with Syrian President Bashar Assad that has been the source of additional Western concern. But he said he would seek to thaw relations with the key gulf Arab backers of the rebels fighting to oust Assad’s regime for more than two years.

Rowhani, who led the nuclear negotiating team under reformist former President Mohammad Khatami from 2003 to 2005, said there could be no return to the moratorium on uranium enrichment that Iran accepted at the time. “This period is over,” he said.