Iranian presidential candidate Rouhani has taken part in a televised interview as part of his campaign in the run-up to the May 19th vote. Here are excerpts from the interview, according to a Farsi report by Khabar Online.
Average Age of Cabinet Members
We should give more leeway to the youth all across the country. The Cabinet comprises 30 members. Whether they are young or not is unimportant. What counts is their competence and capabilities [to meet the requirements needed] for a given ministry and their responsibilities. But given the circumstances, the Cabinet will change compared to [what it was] before and its members will be younger on average.
Looking to Domestic Resources for Progress
[Asked about his views regarding the recent comments by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who had urged presidential hopefuls to focus their attention on local potentialities rather than foreign resources, Rouhani replied] The Leader mentioned an important point, and stressed it several times, urging all officials to look to domestic capabilities. The Leader emphasized that looking to foreign resources can weaken our national might and prompt the enemy to become greedy [and have an eye on our country]. We saw that when we were dependent on oil revenues, the enemy immediately imposed sanctions on us in order to get us into trouble. [The idea of having] a resilient economy [proposed by the Leader] is aimed at ensuring an endogenous economy. I have repeated a sentence time and again, and that is, this administration looks to the blessings of the Almighty in the first place, and to the people, in the second place, and will never look to foreign countries. Of course, we will have interactions, constructive interactions, but we should pin our hopes on domestic potential and resources.
Foreign Policy Priority
Our policy is based on constructive engagement with the world, but our neighbours take priority, and the reason is we are facing insecurity in the region and we need to have more interaction. The next priority is the Muslim world.
Supporting Resistance Fronts
[On what approach he has adopted to back resistance fronts, Rouhani said] our region has numerous enemies. Western governments have an eye of greed on our region. Terrorism has also emerged as another enemy. We should join hands against threats posed by interventionist and terrorist elements as well as other dangers which might be threatening our region.
Iran’s Policy on US
[On his administration’s reaction to possible new US sanctions on Iran, Rouhani noted] In the ISA (Iran Sanctions Act) issue, when Americans took a step against our interests, we showed reaction, and the two orders I gave the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran was in line with this matter. So, our reaction to sanctions will be to respond in kind.
US Cannot Do a Damn Thing
[Asked on his viewpoint about these famous statements by the late Leader of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khomeini that “The US is the Great Satan,” and “The US cannot do a damn thing,” Rouhani said] This is a well-known statement by Imam Khomeini made at a time when
Americans had made threats against Iran and the Islamic Revolution, taken the [former Iranian dictator] Shah to the United States and taken actions such as [the US encroachment upon Iranian soil and illegally sending troops to the] Tabas [desert]. Under those circumstances, the late Imam said “the US has not yet stopped making mischief in dealing with Iran.” We were seeking détente with the whole world, but Washington didn’t stop [its hostile approach toward Iran]. The Leader made a key point, that we should disappoint the enemy. For that to happen, we should promote faith across the region.
Strategy to Counter US Bullying
It is important to boost national might. Unity, national self-confidence, as well as our smart, hard and soft power are all important. When we managed to create economic growth in Iran, we saw its immediate effects on the negotiations. This is the same social, economic and military power which should come together to show those adopting a hostile approach on Tehran that Iran is a country of peace and friendship.
Iran’s Ties with Neighbours
[On the kind of Iran’s Relations with neighbouring countries in his next administration, Rouhani said] in the 11th administration, a lot of efforts were made, many attempts were made to enhance [our] relations and power in the region. We should continue these efforts. Our relations with Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon are better. [Our relations with neighbours are good] except with one of the neighbours which has ruined bilateral ties for the sake of its own regional interests. Today, we have good relations with regional countries and we will continue to have those relations. We will keep our ties on economic, political and cultural fronts.
Dealing with Violation of JCPOA
As for the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), as the Leader said, we won’t breach it. Iran has complied with whatever agreement it has concluded with other countries. The same goes for the JCPOA. As long as the other party to the deal complies with its obligations, Iran will live up to its commitments, too. If they harm the agreement, we have drawn up a reciprocal plan [to respond to their move.] We have prepared different plans for different possible circumstance in the future.
I hope the people will remain on the scene as always. The political arena is very important for our country. God willing, people will create another epic on May 19, 2017.