Iran’s Rouhani Reiterates Need for Policy of Engagement

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who’s been the target of renewed attacks by political opponents, reiterated that engagement is the way out of Iran’s nuclear impasse with Western nations.

Iran “cannot succeed internationally by being confrontational,” Rouhani said in an address to academics in Tehran today, state-run Iranian Students’ News Agency reported. “This government’s solution is constructive engagement, but when we talk about this some say so you want to give in? So what should we do, brandish a dagger?”

Hardliners in Iran oppose concessions made by Rouhani’s government as part of an interim nuclear deal with world powers reached in November that won Iran limited sanctions relief. They have accused the president of being too soft on the U.S.

Parties at the nuclear negotiating table, including the U.S. and its western allies, are working with Iranian diplomats on finalizing the accord by July. The deal would ensure that Iran’s nuclear activities are purely civilian and would secure the lifting of sanctions against the nation.

“We see sanctions as a cruelty towards the people,” Rouhani said. “If anyone likes sanctions they should explain their rationale.”

An event yesterday, organized by a group identifying itself as “the anxious” and held at the site of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran, drew dozens opposing the temporary nuclear deal, the local Shargh newspaper reported. Participants chanted slogans such as “no consensus, no surrender” and waved Iran’s flag and posters that read “details of the negotiations won’t remain a secret.”

Rouhani has recently been targeted in a documentary promoted by his political opponents and widely distributed. The film highlights aspects of his decades-long political career including his stint as a nuclear negotiator, when he’s portrayed as having been duped by Western countries, according to local media including the Tehran-based Shargh newspaper.

(Corrects to add dropped letter in name of newspaper in sixth paragraph of story originally published May 4.)
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