New Iranian President Warns Against Populism of Predecessor

TEHRAN, Iran (dpa MCT) -

Nuclear chief: Iran has 18,000 centrifuges

New Iranian president Hassan Rowhani criticized what he said were the populist foreign policy statements of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and warned that even small mistakes could cost the country dearly.

Rowhani, who called for a more restrained foreign policy, was speaking at the inauguration ceremony for the new foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. He said that in foreign affairs, officials should take great care with their statements.

“Foreign policy is not the place for populist slogans, but for considered remarks,” Rowhani said.

Earlier this month, Rowhani told his first news conference as president that he was ready to allay long-held concerns in the international community regarding Iran’s disputed nuclear program with more openness toward the International Atomic Energy Agency and new nuclear talks  with concerned nations in September.

Iran insists the program is peaceful, but there is widespread international suspicion the country may be planning to build nuclear weapons.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton telephoned Zaif Saturday to congratulate him on his new position and to stress the European Union’s commitment to a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany were “ready to work with the new Iranian negotiating team as soon as they were appointed. She confirmed the need for substantial talks that will lead to concrete results swiftly,” the EU said in a statement.

The country’s departing nuclear chief, Ferejdun Abbasi, announced Saturday that Iran has 18,000 centrifuges, 9,700 of which are enriching uranium to levels of 5 percent to 20 percent in two facilities, according to the ISNA news agency.

Of the 18,000, 1,000 are of a modern type that should significantly speed up acceleration.

Of the 9,700, 9,000 are in the Natanz facility, enriching uranium to 5 percent. Another 700 in Natanz and Fordo are enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent.

The numbers have not been confirmed by the IAEA.

Rowhani has named a former foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, his new nuclear chief.

Rowhani has already promised to put an end to what he called the “eight-year dark era” of Ahmadinejad by ensuring freedom of expression.