AJC: Iran President's UN Speech Leaves More Questions on Nuclear Program

September 24, 2013 -- New York -- AJC is deeply disappointed with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s inaugural speech before the UN General Assembly.

“Given the opportunity to answer constructively and honestly the greatest global security concern today, President Rouhani chose to continue the long-standing Iranian line of avoidance of the truth about his country’s nuclear program,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “The UN, the IAEA, indeed nations across the Middle East and around the world, are still waiting for Iran to drop its posture of defiance and come clean.”

“Nuclear weapons have no place in Iran’s security and defense doctrine,” said Rouhani, backing up his assertion that Iran is a peace-loving nation. He declared that the objective of Iran’s nuclear program always has been and will be for “exclusively peaceful purposes.”

But, as Senators Charles Schumer and John McCain wrote to President Obama yesterday, “Iran has quintupled its stockpile of low-enriched uranium since 2009 and has come much closer to possessing weapons-grade uranium by enriching up to 20 percent of it.” And, the Senators added, Iran has more than doubled the number of centrifuges at Fordow since July 2012. “[N]o one should question American intent to act against Iran’s nuclear program,” wrote Schumer and McCain.

The Iranian president appealed to the world body to recognize Iran’s “right to nuclear enrichment inside Iran and enjoyment of other nuclear related rights.” He stressed that Iran’s nuclear program is well advanced and “domesticated.” He criticized the sanctions imposed on his country, charging that they “violate inalienable human rights.”

But President Rouhani failed to address President Obama’s observation earlier in the day, from the same UN podium, that Iran’s choices – repeatedly violating agreements under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime, hiding enrichment and weapons-related nuclear programs from inspectors, and ignoring repeated UN Security Council resolutions – are responsible for the international sanctions against his country.

“Rouhani’s posture does not exactly bode well for Thursday’s meeting in New York of the U.S., Great Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia with Iran to discus the nuclear program and ways to resolve the very valid and growing concerns about it,” said Harris. “We hope Secretary Kerry and the other foreign ministers will stand firm in pressing Iran to come clean, answer the many requests of the UN Security Council and the IAEA, and cooperate fully with the international community, so that there is no longer any doubt about the true scope and intent of Iran’s nuclear program.”

Rouhani told the UN General Assembly today that Iran “is prepared to engage immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency.”

“Let’s hope that Iran is truly ready to change course, but in light of the country’s history of deceit – and its yet undeterred pursuit of nuclear weapons capability – extreme caution is essential,” said Harris. “So far, there has been no concrete indication that Iran is ready to change course. We need to remember that actions speak far louder than words.”