Tehran has no intention of producing nuclear weapon, Rouhani tells Khurshid

Recently elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said there is no political motive behind the detention of an Indian tanker by his security agencies.

The issue was raised by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid during New Delhi’s first high-level contact with Tehran after the presidential elections.

On Iran’s nuclear issue, which led to wide-ranging unilateral sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union that have inhibited India from expanding ties, especially in the oil sector, Mr. Rouhani said Iran considered it “politically and morally wrong” to take the path of developing nuclear weapons.

Mr. Khurshid said the President assured him that Tehran did not want to violate or retreat from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but needed to be “persuaded and convinced” about the way forward. “He [Mr. Rouhani] said clearly, without prompting, that Iran had no intention of producing a nuclear weapon.”

The President said the Indian tanker was detained due to technical reasons and wanted this incident not to come in the way of strengthening bilateral ties.

The two leaders had a 30-minute meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek on Friday.

Iran had detained the Indian tanker, MT Desh Shanti, on August 12 at the Bandar Abbas port on charges of pollution. Released nearly a month later on September 6, the delay in settling the issue had led to New Delhi suspecting a political motive because, according to an official (when the ship was still detained), “each time we agree to one condition, they come up with another.”

While Mr. Khurshid detailed India’s practical difficulties in expanding its engagements with Iran due to sanctions, Mr. Rouhani suggested both countries look at means to developing alternative routes.