Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a rare news conference Saturday that his nation and world powers are “within reach” in making a deal over Iran’s nuclear program ahead of a June 30 agreement.
Rouhani, speaking on state television to mark the second anniversary of his election, reiterated a familiar narrative in the ongoing talks.
“If the other side sticks to the framework that has been established and does not bring new issues into play, I believe it can be solved and we can reach an agreement,” he said from Tehran. “But if they want to take the path of brinkmanship, the negotiations could take longer.”
The White House has been battling objections to the deal from conservatives at home and close allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. While in Tehran, Rouhani has been fighting off stiff opposition from hardliners who think a deal with the West will be to the detriment of Iran.
For them, Rouhani gives a similar message to the one that President Barack Obama has for his skeptics: “When you see the deal, you will see it’s a good deal.”
Asked if Iran would allow inspections of military sites and interviews with Iranian nuclear scientists as part of a potential deal with the P5+1, Rouhani said: “The country will never allow its state secrets to be accessed by foreigners under the pretext of international treaties or conventions.”
Iran has been trying to hammer out an agreement with the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, and China, plus Germany.
Leading the charge in Iran has been Rouhani, a centrist moderate cleric, who is pushing for a nuclear agreement that would limit the country’s nuclear program in exchange for the removal of harsh economic sanctions.
He said Saturday that the country was better off today than it was two years ago — before he won a surprise election in June 2013.
“We have reduced inflation, we have economic programs that benefit people, large foreign trade delegations are visiting Iran and the currency has stabilized — and all this was done with the same sanctions that existed before I was elected,” he said.