President of Iran Hassan Rouhani blamed U.S. concern about Iran’s continuing nuclear enrichment on “false propaganda” seeking to portray Iran as a threat.
In an address to the Asia Society in New York last week, Rouhani said it is a national imperative for him to answer any reasonable questions about Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. He described concerned Americans as “alarmists” and called on the American leadership to “rise above petty politics.”
According to Rouhani, U.N. weapons inspectors have “found no evidence of deviation in Iran’s activities,” and U.S. intelligence has determined that Iran has no intention to build a nuclear weapon. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Iran has deceived, delayed, and sidelined U.N. inspectors many times, even creating a covert nuclear enrichment plant underneath a military base in Fordow. Iran has enriched far more uranium than is necessary for civilian use, yet Rouhani argued that the exclusive intention of its “peaceful nuclear program” is for civilian access to technology, medicine, and other such benign uses.
Rouhani said that Iran would “never forgo our inherent right to benefit from nuclear energy under any circumstances.” He condemned American “arm-twisting” as an example of pointless animosity that would not halt Iranian nuclear enrichment.
Not surprisingly, though, he did spend a great deal of his speech promoting his vision of moving beyond the animosity of the past and cooperating on international issues, especially economic ones. Rouhani said he wants to focus his foreign policy on the economic development of Iran—taking a jab at Washington for continuing its sanctions on Iran. But the U.S. should not let up on the sanctions on Iran until the leadership takes concrete steps to dismantle its nuclear enrichment program.
Alexandria Lane is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.