In his first interview with the Western press, recently elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke with NBC News' Ann Curry about nuclear weapons, Israel, President Obama, and Iran's desire for peace.
"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, adding that "under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever."
While promising not to build nuclear weapons isn't exactly a new line for Iranian leaders, it's still something, especially since Rouhani claimed to have Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's permission to make a deal with the West over Iran's nuclear program.
Rouhani also told Curry about his relationship with his new pen pal President Obama, who wrote Rouhani a congratulatory letter shortly after he was elected president in June. "From my point of view, the tone of the letter was positive and constructive," Rouhani said, acknowledging the 33-year absence of diplomatic relations between the countries. "It could be subtle and tiny steps for a very important future.”
Of course, a major obstacle in the US-Iran relationship is Israel, a country Rouhani described in the interview 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.”
When asked if he agreed with his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments that the Holocaust was a "myth," Rouhani dodged the question while seeming to acknowledge the sensitivity of the issue. "I'm not a historian. I'm a politician," he replied. "What is important for us is that the countries of the region and the people grow closer to each other, and that they are able to prevent aggression and injustice."
[Image via AP]