Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani took a hard-line position on the nuclear issue Tuesday.

“Our government will not give up one iota of its absolute rights,” Rouhani said, ahead of a new round of talks between Iran and the IAEA set for September 27.

The Iranian leader’s statement, reported by AFP, casts a pallor on prospects for a negotiated settlement to the dispute over suspicions the Islamic Republic is in the process of developing nuclear weapons.

Rouhani took office last month, and his election led some to believe that compared to his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a more moderate policy would be pursued.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif plans on holding a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in New York on the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting on September 22.

Iraq Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani said in a meeting with Zarif earlier this week that his country was ready to help Iran develop its nuclear program, the Iranian Students’ News Agency reported on Tuesday.

Iraq’s Shi’ite leadership has long been suspected of being close to Iran.

The two men also discussed energy cooperation and the talks between Iran and the West over the country’s nuclear program.

The Student’s News Agency also quoted Zarif as saying that Iran and the US have exchanged messages on Syria.

“The West must understand that it will not achieve success through sanctions and pressures against the Iranian nation…. If the West uses the language of logic, reason and mutual interests on an equal footing, the Iranian administration is also ready to respond in the language of wisdom, prudence and logic,” Rouhani said, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency.

He also warned that an attack would cause the attackers great suffering.

“Our entire efforts have been focused on preventing war, and this idea has gained momentum this week thanks to efforts and initiatives of some countries. We hope there will be no war, but if there was one, the warmongers would have to pay dearly for it,”he said, according to the Iranian Tasnim News Agency.

A senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Seyet Hashem Hosseini Bushehri, told Tasnim on Tuesday that wars are easy to start but difficult to end.

“It is easy to start a war. All it needs is to fire a couple of missiles. But continuing with it and bringing it to an end are very difficult issues,” he said.

He added that an attack could spread insecurity throughout the region and put “the bases of the US and its allies in harm’s way.”

The possibility of a deal that would avert a US-led attack against Syria has led to Iranian boasting and credit-taking.

Hojjatollah Souri, an Iranian lawmaker and a member of the important National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said on Tuesday that Iran’s military power deterred a US attack.

“One of the elements which has made the US dubious about its decision for attacking Syria is Iran’s military assistance to the resistance line,” he said, according to Fars.

“Certainly, the Islamic Republic’s military equipment is as good as the foreign states’ weapons and sometimes outpaces them, and this progress will definitely increase security in our country and the region,” explained Hojjatollah.

Another lawmaker, Muhammad Javad Karimi Qoddousi, a fellow member of the commission, similarly told Fars on Saturday that Iran was responsible for the delay in the US attack.

“We have studied the most important cause of the delay in the US attack on Syria and understood that the revolutionary and effective positions taken by the Islamic Republic [and] of Iran’s officials have caused the delay,” he said.

Iran supports Russia’s offer to work with Syria to put its chemical weapons under international control, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

US President Barack Obama said on Monday he saw a possible breakthrough in the crisis with Syria after Moscow proposed that its ally hand over chemical weapons for destruction, offering a path that averts US military strikes. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government has welcomed the Russian proposal.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran favors that initiative, and we find this to be within the framework of putting a halt to militarism in the region,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told a news conference carried live on state television.

Iran has staunchly supported Assad against rebels seeking to oust him, and has said the rebels, whom it calls “terrorists,” were responsible for the chemical attack.

Afkham said any action on chemical weapons should ensure they are not available to the rebels.

“There are concerns regarding possession of an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists,” Afkham said. “We think that any kind of initiative should actually cover terrorists.”

Syria has also signed “major contracts” with Iran that would cover its needs for food, medical and other supplies, state television said on Tuesday.

A protracted civil war has left Syria divided and displaced millions of people. The country has struggled to buy food in recent weeks, issuing tenders to buy sugar, flour, rice and wheat, citing extreme urgency yet failing to make any purchases.

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