President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has accused his critics of using lies to oppose his policies, including nuclear talks with world powers, and says a deal restricting Iran’s nuclear programme would benefit the country.
In an interview with state television broadcast on Tuesday, Rouhani suggested his critics were a “tiny minority” who had profited from sanctions and feared losing out if they were removed.
Rouhani and his negotiators have been under pressure from those who oppose talks with the six powers – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany known as the P5+1. The P5+1 is seeking restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme in return for an end to sanctions against Tehran. The two side hope to meet a July deadline for an agreement.
Rouhani’s opponents, many of them from the administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have stepped up their campaign and accuse Rouhani of sacrificing national pride and revolutionary identity for the sake of an agreement.
But, in the televised interview, Rouhani said he would not compromise when it came to the national interest and that sanctions were a “big injustice”.
“Through lies and hype, some people try to derail the government from its path. This is against national interests and the leader’s order …We do not compromise on people’s interests.
“Sanctions were a big injustice and our nation suffered … but a handful profited, as sanctions removed transparency in society and economy. Our people are happy about removal of the sanctions, and just a tiny minority is angry because they have come to lose … that’s where all attempts at tarnishing the government originate,” he added.
Rouhani did not identify his critics or give examples of exaggeration.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wields unmatched power in Iran’s political system, has cautiously endorsed the talks.
However, he has insisted that Tehran keeps the right to uranium enrichment for scientific research, expressing scepticism that the West is prepared to abandon what he sees as its hostility to the Islamic Republic.
After four rounds of talks, Iran and the major powers are due to meet again in New York next month to start writing the final draft of a nuclear deal.
The P5+1 suspect the programme is aimed at developing the ability to manufacture a nuclear bomb. Iran says the programme is solely for civilian purposes, such as electricity generation.