TEHRAN, Iran — A top adviser to Iran's supreme leader says the election of centrist Hasan Rouhani as the country's president gives an opportunity to world powers to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear program — but that Tehran will never again suspend its nuclear activities.
Ali Akbar Velayati, who advises Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on key matters, including the nuclear issue, told the Associated Press in an interview that the onus is on the West to reach out to Iran, but he pledged that Iran would respond with a "different language" from the bombastic rhetoric used by Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The election of Rouhani has revived hopes that a deal can be reached with the West to ease concerns over Iran's nuclear intentions. So far, the change on Iran's side has been in terms of a softer tone — but not a softening of its determination to fully pursue its nuclear program. Tehran insists its program is entirely peaceful, but the United States and its allies believe Iran aims to have the capability to build a nuclear weapon.
Velayati said Iran will not again suspend enrichment because Tehran had a bitter experience when it did so in 2003 as a confidence-building measure.
"We stopped any kind of enrichment for two years," he said. "What was the result? Nothing."