Sitting down with Ann Curry in his first interview with a U.S. news outlet since being elected president, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seemed to strike a moderate tone during a conversation on Wednesday.
Rouhani told NBC News' Curry that Iran will never make nuclear weapons
and wants peace in stability for all countries in the region, but he called Israel "an occupier and usurper government."
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Rouhani replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June, appealing to conservative and reform voters, wrote CNN
. Rouhani, Iran's former national Security Council chief, campaigned on greater personal freedom and freeing political prisoners.
According to NBC News, Rouhani told Curry that he has the ability to deal with the West on the country's nuclear program, which he said is being created for civilian use.
"In its nuclear program, this government enters with full power and has complete authority," he said in the interview, repeating the pledge that "under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever."
In an op-ed in The Washington Post on Thursday
, Rouhani, who is preparing to speak in front of the United Nations in New York on Tuesday, said that Iran is open to "constructive engagement."
"Three months ago, my platform of 'prudence and hope' gained a broad, popular mandate," he wrote. "Iranians embraced my approach to domestic and international affairs because they saw it as long overdue. I’m committed to fulfilling my promises to my people, including my pledge to engage in constructive interaction with the world."
Rouhani struck a similar view in the Curry interview, saying that Iran is seeking peace within its border and throughout the Middle East.
"We are not seeking ... and looking for war with any nations," Rouhani said. "We are seeking peace and stability among all the nations in the region."
In responding to comments made by Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu after Rouhani's election, Rouhani called him a "wolf in sheep’s clothing" and described Israel as "an occupier and usurper government."
Rouhani told NBC News that Israel "does injustice to the people of the region, and has brought instability to the region, with its warmongering policies" and that it "shouldn't allow itself to give speeches about a democratically and freely elected government."
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