Rouhani on ISIS, Nuke Talks

September 3, 2014

     On August 30, President Hassan Rouhani vowed to resist U.S. sanctions in a televised press conference. But he also said Iran would continue nuclear talks with the world’s six major powers.  “We hope that we will reach [an] agreement... the tyrannical sanctions must be lifted,” Rouhani told domestic and foreign reporters. Just one day before the press conference, Washington sanctioned more than 25 businesses, banks and individuals for supporting Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism and sanctions evasion. Rouhani warned that the sanctions “are against the spirit” of the interim nuclear deal that was implemented in January 2014. 

           The president, who took office a little more than a year ago, addressed both domestic and foreign policy challenges, including the threat of Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq. He accused the United States and the West of supporting the Islamic State (IS) while it was fighting the Syrian regime in past years. Rouhani also criticized U.S. motivations for recent air strikes on IS. “Attacking terrorists on the pretext of protecting a country’s own citizens or embassy is not a true reason to fight terrorists,” he said. 
           The president also said that he did not know whether he would attend the U.N. General Assembly in September. Rouhani said he has “no plans” to meet with President Barack Obama. The following are excerpted remarks, including tweets from Rouhani's quasi-official account.

Nuclear Talks
            “Sanctions are an invasion of the Iranian nation. We should resist the invasion and put the invaders in their place. We should not allow the continuation and repetition of the invasion.
Sanctions on Iran’s pharmaceutical industry constitute a “crime against humanity.”
            “Besides, we basically believe that sanctions are illegal and wrong in essence and their form is also incorrect and unconstructive from our viewpoint. Iran continues to talk until an agreement is made… [but] if an agreement is not reached, sanctions cannot remain like before.”
            “We hope that we will reach agreement in the continuation of the path and the tyrannical sanctions must be lifted.”
            “The United States is the only country that Iran holds deep doubts about its good will for the settlement of the nuclear standoff.”
            “Our people distrust Americans. It would be better if Americans could do something that could help to build some trust in the future. Unfortunately, their moves only deepen distrust.”
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
            “Attacking terrorists on the pretext of protecting a country’s own citizens or embassy is not a true reason to fight terrorists.”
            “The U.S. and Western [countries] kept silent and supported ISIL during some years of terrorists fighting against Syria, but now they claim fight against terrorism in the region.”
Foreign Policy
            “Iranian people are men of ethics, morality and culture, wishing to lead peaceful co-existence with other nations. The reason is that in the past 100 to 200 years, Iran has not made any aggression on any country and has been only defendant to aggression, if any.
            “In the past year, leaders of many countries traveled to Iran. I traveled to several countries as well. Iran seeks good neighborly ties with the neighbors and the regional states with unity and fraternity.”
            “In the new era, we will have better relations with Turkey. We have difference of opinion with Turkey on the Syrian developments. No problem. We hope we will bring the differences to settlement.”
            “We want to have better relations with all the neighbors. Difference, if any, has nothing to do with our bilateral relations, rather, the differences we have about the region, ranging from North Africa to the Middle East, do still exist and may remain as well.”
            “Of course, if we reach an agreement with the P5+1 [on the nuclear issue], the conditions will be more different and it will be much easier to expand economic relations with all countries including China.”
Domestic Issues
             “As for the issues about the previous years and their backlash in the present time, we will act within framework of the law and our yardstick is the law. If the judiciary has sentenced a person to a prison term and he/she are deprived of the social rights. Let’s say, if the court has deprived one of the social rights, we have nothing to do.”
            “The predictions are all on the same basis and God willing, this year, we will witness positive growth, leaving behind recession and entering the era of economic boom.”
             “Efforts have been made to minimize negative growth in 1392 (2013-14) and in 1391 (2012-13) economic growth rate was minus 6.7 and in 1392 (2013-14) being minus 1.1 percent. We tried lower the negative growth to some extent.
             “In the field of energy, the government has made lots of efforts to sell oil and gas liquids to the extent the country needed as you see we are under the sanctions.”