Rouhani: Protests Mean People's Demands are Ignored

Rouhani: Protests Mean People's Demands are Ignored

Wednesday, 7 February, 2018 - 08:30
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani September 20, 2017. (File Photo: REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo)
London - Adil Al-Salmi
Recent protests in Iran were not only limited to the economy, but Iranians had political and social demands as well, said President Hassan Rouhani.

Rouhani considered people resorting to demonstrations as evidence that their public demands were ignored by consecutive Iranian governments. He also described the internet as a major player in foreign and domestic policies.

Regarding international affairs, Rouhani blamed the US administration for wasting a "golden opportunity" to restore Tehran-Washington relations after the nuclear deal.

It was his second press conference since winning his second presidential term and around a month after the protests that started in Mashhad city.

Most of the questions were about the recent protests and economic situation especially after the increase in the dollar's rate as well as Iran's foreign policy, nuclear deal, and the country’s regional role as well as cooperation with Turkey and Russia in Syria.

“People have criticism and objections on the economic issue and they have a right. But the objections aren’t only economic. They also have something to say about political and social issues and foreign relations,” Rouhani said when asked about the protests.

He suggested opening communication channels with the youth.

“Our ears must be completely open to listen and know what the people want," the president stated.

Blocking websites and confiscating satellite dishes will not stop the flow of information, Rouhani said.

“Today we have accepted protest and luckily all the authorities in the country have accepted the principle of protest,” Rouhani indicated.

The president announced that according to the Minister of Technology, 200,000 job opportunities were created because of the internet.

Rouhani said that Iran would not pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 landmark agreement with world powers under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of most international sanctions.

He said that if the US lived up to all its commitments in the JCPOA, good conditions would have been created and perhaps it would have been possible to discuss other issues with Washington, "but unfortunately, they have lost this golden opportunity".

Rouhani also said the deal cannot be renegotiated. US President Donald Trump, long a critic of the deal, has so far stopped short of pulling out of it, but has told European allies and Congress they had to work with him to change it or he would withdraw from it.

"We have principles and we continue on the basis of our principles. Firstly, as we have repeatedly emphasized, we will not be the first country to violate it, and nothing will be added or removed from it. What Mr. Trump wants is his own business. But not a single line will be added or removed from the JCPOA,” Rouhani told the televised news conference.

“A mistake made by Mr. Trump is that he thinks the nuclear agreement is an agreement with the Democratic Party,” Rouhani said.

When asked about Iran's possible response in case of a US decision to amend the JCPOA, Rouhani answered: "I am very glad that after a year at the White House, Mr. Trump has not yet been able to achieve the goal he pursued and what he shouted during the presidential campaign that he would tear up the deal and the JCPOA is so strong that it has been able to survive against the US for one year now".

Rouhani said it can't be predicted what the US will do in the future, adding that even their "European friends don't know what he wants to do".

“We will negotiate with no one on our weapons," Rouhani said.

"Iranian-made missiles have never been offensive and never will be. They are defensive and are not designed to carry weapons of mass destruction, since we don't have any," he said. 

On economic issues, "there is no budget deficit," he assured.

He called for foreign investments in the country, while urging armed forces and non-governmental institutions to avoid interfering in economic activity which he believed will serve the country.

In related news, Kian Tire workers held a protest in front of the building of the Ministry of Industry and Mine in Tehran demanding the government pay its debts to the company which is staggering under financial problems.

The protesting workers called for the authorities to meet and respond to their demands.

The Kian Tire workers staged their protest while the ministry building was surrounded by anti-riot forces.

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