December 7, 2013 - 17:38 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Iran's president defended an interim nuclear deal that eases some of the international community's crippling economic sanctions in return for a freeze on part of the Islamic Republic's uranium enrichment activities, saying Saturday, Dec 7, that improving the economy is as important as maintaining a peaceful nuclear program, the Associated Press reports.
"Nuclear technology and uranium enrichment is our definite right," Rouhani said in a speech to university students that was broadcast live on state TV. "But progress, better living conditions and welfare for the people is also our definite right. Breaking and dismantling the architecture of the ominous and oppressive sanctions is also our definite right."
"Centrifuges should spin. But the life of people and the economy also need to spin," he added. "Without economic might, our national might won't be enhanced."
His speech was interrupted by chants of "moderation, reforms" from supporters and "Death to America" from hard-line students who attended the speech. Rouhani paused for seconds when supporters called for the release of opposition leaders while opponents demanded their execution, according to the AP
"We need domestic unanimity and consensus to reach our goals. So, we should increase our tolerance," Rouhani said with a smile. "If we can't resolve a domestic issue through rationality and unanimity, how can we resolve the complicated regional and global issues?"
The six-month interim nuclear deal includes greater access for UN inspectors to Iran's nuclear facilities, a cap on the level of uranium enrichment in return for a halt to new sanctions and an easing of the existing sanctions.
Hardliners have called the deal a "poisoned chalice" and an agreement that "practically tramples on Iran's enrichment rights."
Under the deal, Iran has agreed to halt its 20 percent enrichment program, which is just steps away from bomb-making materials, but will continue enrichment up to 5 percent. It also will convert half of its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to oxide and dilutue the remaining half to 5 percent.
"You saw what countries got angry with the deal and you saw what a blow was inflicted on the Zionists," he said, employing the term Iranian leaders use to refer to Israelis. "In the first 100 days of office, we resolved one of knots of the past 10 years and took steps toward constructive interaction with the world to the benefits of the nation."
Israel has repeatedly criticized the deal and called it a "historic mistake", saying economic sanctions must be toughened, not eased.