Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, affirmed his confidence in Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, tackling the criticisms of hardliners and highlighting the achievements of his two-year-old presidency.
With one eye on a likely run for re-election in 2017, Rouhani used a live interview on state TV to tout the deal as a new “third way” for Iranian foreign policy, dismissing hardliners’ criticism that he had capitulated to the West.
“This idea that we have two options before the world, either submit to it or defeat it, is illogical: there is also a third way, of constructive cooperation with the world in a framework of national interests,” he said.
“We worked with the United Nations without war or pleading or surrender, but with logic, negotiation and diplomacy in a legal path,” he said, avoiding any direct mention of the United States or other Western powers.
Rouhani also downplayed the risk that nuclear inspections could jeopardise Iran’s state secrets, a key line of attack by hardliners in the security establishment.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had forbade giving UN inspectors access to military sites, and it was only with delicate wording that this sticking point was resolved in the deal.
“We will not give away even the smallest national secret... our defensive capability won’t be diminished at all,” Rouhani said.
He invoked popular support for the diplomatic opening, casting his election victory two years ago as a “referendum” on how Iran should conduct itself on the world stage.
“From their perspective, yesterday we were a threatening country and now we are a country with which a deal needs to be struck,” he said.