People should be 'completely free': Iran President Rouhani
APWASHINGTON--Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani, says his people should be free to think, speak and seek information on the Internet, subject to “the protection of our national identity.”
September 20, 2013, 12:21 am TWN
In an interview with NBC News in Tehran, Rouhani also addressed global concerns about his country's nuclear activities, Israel, Syria and an exchange of letters with President Barack Obama since his election in June.
Rouhani spoke to the U.S. television network just days before he is to make his first appearance as president on the world stage when he attends the United Nations General Assembly in New York. U.S. officials will be watching next week's visit closely for signs that Rouhani will warm relations with the West and take a more moderate approach in the next negotiations on Iran's disputed nuclear program.
In the latest excerpts from the interview, released Thursday morning, Rouhani addressed personal freedoms. He said a “commission for citizens' rights” will be established “in the near future.” He said the viewpoint of the government on censorship issues should be based “on our morals.”
“We want the people in their private life to be completely free. In today's world, having access to information and the right of free dialogue and the right to think freely is the right of all people, including the people of Iran,” Rouhani said, according to an NBC translation of the interview.
Rouhani is considered a relative moderate in Iran's hard-line clerical regime. He campaigned on a promise to seek relief from punishing U.S. and Western sanctions that have slashed Iran's vital oil exports by more than half in the past two years, sent inflation soaring and severely undercut the value of its currency.
Rouhani said Iran has “never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb and we are not going to do so. We have time and again said that under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever.”
It was a claim Iran has made before, that its nuclear activities are purely peaceful. However, the U.S. and its allies suspect Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, which some experts say the country might be able to accomplish as early as next year.
Rouhani addressed a question that many in the U.S. have been asking: Does he really have the power to make major decisions and concessions on the nuclear issue?
“In its nuclear program, this government enters with full power and has complete authority,” he said. “We have sufficient political latitude to solve this problem.”