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Rouhani vows to prove Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, insists on enrichment

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Sept. 24, 2013. (UN Photo)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressing the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Sept. 24, 2013. (UN Photo)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pledged in his address to the United Nations to prove that his country’s nuclear program is peaceful but insisted on its right to enrich uranium.

Rouhani, elected this summer and speaking Tuesday for the first time as president to the U.N. General Assembly, said the Iranian ethos and Muslim precepts demanded that “we remove all concerns about Iran’s nuclear program,” and he pledged to “remove mutual uncertainties with full transparency.”

However, he also said this was possible only if Iran’s right to continue uranium enrichment for what he said were peaceful purposes was guaranteed.

Israel insists that any diplomatic solution to tensions with Iran include the full removal of its capacity for enrichment.

The United States and other Western nations reportedly are ready to accommodate a degree of enrichment well short of levels needed for weaponization.

Rouhani did not directly respond to President Obama’s offer made earlier in the day at the United Nations to engage directly on the issue, although the Iranian leader noted the offer and said he believed in “constructive engagement with other countries.”

He called on Washington to “refrain from following the shortsighted interests of war-mongering pressure groups.”

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