Iranian President Hassan Rouhani might be willing to shutter a controversial uranium-enrichment site to help resolve a long-running nuclear dispute with world powers, intelligence insiders told Der Spiegel for a Monday report.
Iran could offer to close the underground Qum facility in exchange for curbs on punitive economic measures piled on it by Washington and other governments, according to the German news magazine. Rouhani might plan to publicly float the idea in coming days, and the European Union's top diplomat could receive details at a Sunday meeting planned with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The Persian Gulf power insists its nuclear ambitions are strictly peaceful, but its ability to potentially refine uranium for use as nuclear-bomb fuel has made the process central to a multi-year international standoff.
Iran's supreme religious leader, who holds final say on all of the nation's policy decisions, on Tuesday endorsed Rouhani's conciliatory messaging and called for Tehran to exercise "heroic leniency," the Washington Post reported.
"Such an approach is very good and necessary in certain situations as long as we stick to our main principles,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said. "When we say that no country should possess nuclear weapons, we ourselves are definitely not trying to possess them."
Tehran earlier on Tuesday verified claims that Rouhani had swapped written messages with U.S. President Obama, Reuters reported. The leaders are slated next week to speak within hours of each other at the U.N. General Assembly, but no face-to-face encounter has been scheduled, the news agency said.