Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told his conservative critics that a landmark nuclear deal reached with world powers represents the will of the people who handed him a mandate for change in the 2013 presidential election.
“I said on the agreement day we have turned over a new page in history,” Rouhani said in a televised speech on Thursday, recalling comments he made when the deal was reached on July 14. “Some thought I meant July 14, but I meant June 14, 2013 when the people made an important decision,” he said, referring to the election that brought him to power.
Rouhani campaigned on a pledge to remove sanctions that have stifled the country’s economy, with inflation above 40 percent at its peak and 20 percent unemployment. The deal with six world powers reached in Vienna would lift the sanctions in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on July 20 endorsing the accord, while U.S. government officials including Secretary of State John Kerry have begun the process of persuading Congress to do the same. Iran’s parliament voted this week to appoint a committee to review the pact, with debate over the details largely muted.
“This agreement sent a message to the world that the most difficult and complex international issues can be resolved through dialog and negotiations,” Rouhani said.
While critics were right to “scrutinize the terms of the deal one by one,” the agreement is “more valuable and more significant than that,” he said.
Some conservatives have said the deal, which also keeps restrictions on Iran’s conventional arsenal in place for several years, represents an encroachment on the country’s missile programs. It violates “major red lines” regarding arms capabilities, said Major General Mohammed Ali Jafari, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Public backing for the agreement from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei means that the conservative factions which dominate Iran’s parliament are unlikely to reject it.