Rohani: Iran Will Not Dismantle Nuclear Plants

Negotiations over final deal on Iran's nuclear program is 'best test' of whether rapprochement with United States is possible, Hassan Rohani tells the Financial Times.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani said his country will not decommission its nuclear plants, according to an interview published by the Financial Times Friday night. He was nevertheless optimistic on the possibility of rapprochement with the United States after decades of tensions between the two countries.

Israel and hawks in the United States have demanded Iran abolish its nuclear program, criticizing the last week’s historic interim deal between Iran and world powers as insufficient to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran maintains its nuclear program is strictly peaceful.

In Rohani’s first interview since the temporary pact was signed in Geneva, he laid out a determined Iranian position ahead of talks on a final deal. When asked by the Financial Times whether Iran would dismantle its nuclear facilities, he said “One hundred percent [no].”

The interim deal struck between Iran and world powers eases some sanctions on Iran in return for rolling back certain aspects of its nuclear program. The two sides have the next six months to work out differences and sign a pact to normalize relations after years of suspicion and sanctions. Rohani called this period the “best test” of whether trust can build between Iran and the United States, in his interview with the Financial Times.

Rohani said the past 100 days, which correspond to the time he has been in office, have opened up the possibility of resolving disagreements with the United States. He qualified his optimism saying “Iran-U.S. problems are very complicated and cannot be resolved over a short period of time.”

Rohani and U.S. President Barack Obama recently spoke on the telephone in a first conversation between leaders from the two countries since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Recalling the conversation, Rohani said to the Financial Times, “I found him someone with very polite and smart language.”