President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday he wanted Iran to do a better job of explaining its nuclear program to prevent "evil-minded'' people misleading world opinion, two days before Tehran resumes talks with world powers on its disputed atomic activity.
Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia will reconvene in Vienna to try to iron out differences over how to end a long standoff over suspicions that Tehran has sought the means to develop nuclear weapons.
The talks, resuming Tuesday, face an informal July deadline to hammer out a final deal to limit Iran's ability to build nuclear arms in exchange for ending the crippling economic sanctions it faces.
Rouhani said in the television appearance that Iran would never accept "nuclear apartheid" and "scientific segregation" by giving up its contested program.
Western powers, which believe Iran is seeking to build atomic weaponry, have long demanded greater openness from Iran to address those concerns and head off the risk of a downward spiral toward a new Middle East war. Israel has threatened to attack its arch-foe if diplomacy does not rein it in.
“What we can offer the world is greater transparency,” Rouhani said in a speech Sunday at a ceremony with medical and nuclear experts celebrating Iran's scientific achievements.
In his remarks, Rouhani reiterated that Iran was not seeking nuclear weapons and would never halt its atomic program, which was for peaceful purposes. He also repeated a denial of Western charges that Iran has carried out any secret nuclear bomb work.
But along with achieving scientific progress, Rouhani added, Iran ought to develop its abilities in the legal, political and information realms to prevent "the enemy'' making problems for its nuclear developments.
“If one engages in a technological endeavor but is not doing good legal and political work, then the enemy might come up with a fictional excuse to cause trouble for you,” said Rouhani, a relative moderate who replaced a conservative hardliner who antagonized the West.
The Islamic Republic's leaders normally use the term “the enemy” to refer to the United States and Israel.
“If you don't have good public relations and are not able to communicate well, then you might find other evil-minded people misleading world public opinion,” Rouhani said. “So our effort today is to even out our efforts on multiple levels. ... We don't want to retreat one step from our pursuit of technology, but we want to take a step forward on the political front.”
His comments appeared to be a criticism of hostile statements from within the hardline conservative establishment, including his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who called U.N. resolutions against Iran on the nuclear dispute a “worthless piece of paper.”
Rouhani's critics in Iran claim his administration has given up too many concessions to the West.
Iran signed a historic six-month deal in November with six world powers to curb its nuclear activity in exchange for the easing of international sanctions.
"If the world seeks good relations with Iran, it should choose the way of surrendering to Iran's rights, respecting the Iranian nation and praising Iranian scientists," Rouhani said in the speech, which was aired live by state television.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters, AP.