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Rouhani says Iran will 'never' develop nuclear weapons (VIDEO)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says he has 'sufficient political latitude' to make a deal with the West and resolve the dispute over Tehran's atomic program.

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Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani told NBC News his country will 'never' develop nuclear weapons. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani has said that his country will "never" develop nuclear weapons.

"Under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever," Rouhani told NBC News correspondent Ann Curry during an interview at the presidential compound in Tehran, broadcast Wednesday.

"We have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb... We solely are looking for peaceful nuclear technology."

The statement is the latest in a series of signs that point to a renewed Iranian effort to reach out to the West. Those include the decision, earlier on Wednesday, to release 12 of Iran's political prisoners, and a recent exchange of letters between Rouhani and US President Barack Obama.

Rouhani called Obama's letter congratulating him on his June election "positive and constructive," adding "it could be subtle and tiny steps for a very important future."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said in the letter, Obama told the Iranian leader the US is open to a peaceful resolution to the nuclear dispute — but that opportunity "will not remain open indefinitely."

More from GlobalPost: Iran confirms Obama, Rouhani exchanged letters

On Tuesday, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly backed Rouhani, signaling the moderate leader is in a strong position to negotiate with the West.

"In its nuclear program, this government enters with full power and has complete authority," Rouhani told NBC. "The problem won't be from our side, we have sufficient political latitude to solve this problem."

Both Obama and Rouhani are due to speak at the United Nations General Assembly next week.

On Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised Iran's renewed efforts to promote dialogue with the international community and its recent release of the political prisoners.

Ban, who is due to meet Rouhani during the UNGA, made the remarks after what he called a "very good meeting" with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The UN chief told Zarif he is encouraged Iran "is now taking some concrete steps to fulfil the promises made by President Rouhani during his recent election campaign."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/130918/rouhani-says-iran-will-never-develop-nuclear-weapons