‘My critics stand to lose most in Iran’s nuke deal with West’

In an interview on state television, Rouhani suggested his critics were a ‘tiny minority’ who had profited from sanctions and feared losing out if curbs were removed with an eventual resolution of Iran’s nuclear dispute with the West.

Rouhani and his negotiators have been under strong pressure from Islamic hardliners opposed to the talks with the United States and five other powers seeking curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme in return for an end to sanctions against Tehran.

As the talks move toward a possible deal by late July, the hardliners, many of them hold-outs from the administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have stepped up their campaign, accusing Rouhani of sacrificing national pride and revolutionary identity for the sake of an agreement.

Rouhani said he would not compromise when it came to the national interest, adding that sanctions were a ‘big injustice.’ ‘Through lies and hype, some people try to derail the government from its path,’ Rouhani said. ‘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.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wields unmatched power in Iran’s Islamic system, has cautiously endorsed the talks between Iran and six world powers: the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia.

But he has insisted Tehran keeps the right to uranium enrichment for scientific research, expressing scepticism that the West is really ready to abandon what he sees as its hostility to the Islamic Republic.
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