|Iran not seeking nuclear weapons: Rouhani||
TEHRAN – President Hassan Rouhani has said that Iran is not looking for war with any nation and will never develop nuclear weapons.
Rouhani's comments came in an exclusive interview with NBC News on Wednesday, his first interview with a U.S. news outlet since his June election. The interview was broadcast on Wednesday.
NBC News' Ann Curry asked Rouhani to respond to comments by Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, who has called him a "wolf in sheep’s clothing."
Rouhani described Israel as "an occupier and usurper government" that "does injustice to the people of the region, and has brought instability to the region, with its warmongering policies."
He added Israel "shouldn't allow itself to give speeches about a democratically and freely elected government."
Netanyahu has previously hinted at the possibility of Israeli military strikes on Iran over the country's nuclear program if Western sanctions and diplomacy fail.
However, Rouhani also said it was important that countries across the Middle East learn to peacefully coexist.
"We are not seeking… and looking for war with any nations. We are seeking peace and stability among all the nations in the region," Rouhani said.
During his inaugural address, Rouhani spoke of engagement with the West to end sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.
Rouhani also appeared to pledge his support for increasing Iranians’ access to the Internet and other political and social freedoms.
"We want the people, in their private lives, to be completely free, and in today’s world having access to information and the right of free dialogue, and the right to think freely, is the right of all peoples, including the people of Iran," he said.
When asked whether his government would stop censoring the Internet, Rouhani said "a commission for citizens' rights" would be established.
"Does that mean that people in Iran will have access now to Twitter and to Facebook?" Curry asked.
"The viewpoint of the government is that the people must have full access to all information worldwide," Rouhani replied. "Our opinions on this should based on protection of our national identity and on our morals."
In the interview with Curry, Rouhani also said his country will never develop nuclear weapons and that he has the clout to make a deal with the West on the nuclear program.
"In its nuclear program, this government enters with full power and has complete authority," he said, adding that Iran has repeatedly pledged that "under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever."
Rouhani, who earned a Ph.D. from a Scottish university and got more than 18 million votes, also discussed how he and President Barack Obama have exchanged letters in which they traded views on "some issues."
"From my point of view, the tone of the letter was positive and constructive," Rouhani said of the note he got from the White House congratulating him on his election.
The two countries severed diplomatic ties in 1980.
"It could be subtle and tiny steps for a very important future," Rouhani told Curry.
"I believe the leaders in all countries could think in their national interest and they should not be under the influence of pressure groups. I hope to witness such an atmosphere in the future."
Rouhani's is due to appear next Tuesday at the UN General Assembly.
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