Nightly News   |  September 18, 2013

Iran’s president vows to never develop nuclear weapons

In an exclusive interview with NBC’s Ann Curry, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country is asking for peace, stability and the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. we're going to begin tonight with an nbc exclusive interview that comes at a critical time for an entire region of the world. nbc 's ann curry made her way to tehran where she has become the first western journalist to interview the new president of oh iran , hassan rouhani. this is the first time americans get to see and hear him. that includes many in the obama administration. what you are about the to hear is significant because it represents the first reason for any optimism, the first sign of movement from iran on the issue of nuclear weapons . right when the crisis in nearby syria has reached its peak. so we begin tonight with nbc 's ann curry in tehran.

>> reporter: brian, good evening. in our interview iran 's president was clearly trying to send a message ahead of the first speech of the united nations that there was a different iran , one that wants to make a deal. the world believes that iran could build a bomb very quickly. you have said this period of time for resolving the nuclear issue will not be unlimiunlimited. just how short is this window -- weeks, months or years?

>> translator: we have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb . we are not going to do so. we are seeking peaceful nuclear technology .

>> reporter: can you say that iran will not build a nuclear weapon under any circumstances whatsoever?

>> translator: the answer to this question is quite obvious. we have time and again said that under no circumstances would we seek uh aweapons of mass destruction .

>> reporter: the supreme leader made a strong statement recently on diplomatic flexibility. he said, i believe in what's already been called heroic flexibility. even a wrestler can show flexibility. what does that mean to you, mr. president? what does it allow you in your negotiations on the nuclear issue?

>> translator: in its nuclear program , this government enters with full power and has complete authority. i have given the nuclear negotiations portfolio to the foreign ministry . the problem won't be from our side. we have sufficient political latitude to solve this problem.

>> reporter: on syria , president rouhani said syria played a major role in crafting the deal. can you assure the world president assad will give up all of his chemical weapons ?

>> translator: we are not the syrian government. we are one of the countries of the region that seeks peace and stability and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in the region.

>> reporter: do you believe the united states , president obama , looked weak in backing off an air strike on syria ?

>> translator: we consider war a weakness. any government that decides on war we consider a weakness. any government that decides on peace we look on it with respect for peace.

>> reporter: and president rouhani confirmed he exchanged letters with president obama recently calling them tie i any steps for a future. that begins at the u.n. where he said he hasn't ruled out a meeting with president obama .

>> ann curry , thanks. much more reporting on our website tonight and tomorrow morning on "today."