Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Says Nuclear Deal Marks U.S. 'Surrender'

Rouhani downplays U.S. strength ahead of Jan. 24 meeting to hammer out nuclear details.

In this picture taken on May 2, 2013, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani delivers a speech during his campaign for the presidential election in Tehran, Iran.
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The Iranian government is framing a new pact to scale back its nuclear program as an act of surrender by the international powers that brokered it, including the U.S.

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In remarks to the Iranian people, President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday the new Geneva agreement "means the big powers surrender to the great Iranian nation" and that it "means the global acceptance of Iran's peaceful nuclear technology," according to state news service Fars.

The president said he would defend Iranians' rights and interests in continued meetings over Iran's nuclear future. Rouhani's remarks, given in the southwestern city of Ahwaz, could be an attempt to make Iran's position seem stronger at home after agreeing to international terms.

Rouhani's comments come less than two days after the announcement that the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany had successfully agreed with Iran to a temporary deal on its nuclear program. Representatives with the International Atomic Energy Agency and foreign diplomats say they will meet on Jan. 24 to begin planning for how Iran will curb its nuclear capabilities in exchange for lifting some of the lighter sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European Union.

 

IAEA is expected to oversee Iran's compliance with the terms of this new deal. Its board is expected to approve that role at the late January meeting, reports The Associated Press.

Some light emerged ahead of last September's U.N. General Assembly between the hardline Iranian government and international powers attempting to stem Iran's reported attempts to develop a nuclear weapon. The recently elected Rouhani, who had adopted a significantly more moderate tone than his predecessor, indicated he would be willing to negotiate on Iran's nuclear program.

Subsequent negotiations in Geneva questioned how international powers would be able to ensure Iran's compliance with any agreement, and whether restricting only some aspects of the nuclear program would amount to a tacit endorsement of other parts.

America's international allies, particularly Iran's rivals in Israel and Saudi Arabia, have staunchly opposed easing any sanctions against Iran.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty for the U.S. in these negotiations remains its own Congress. Some members still wish to levy harsh sanctions against Iran, while diplomats and international negotiators are trying to whittle others down.

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Kerry faced significant opposition when he spoke before a hearing on Capitol Hill in December, particularly when he invoked former President Ronald Reagan's infamous "trust but verify" approach to negotiation with the Soviets. Kerry offered an alternative: "Test but verify," to show that the U.S. is not willing to ease up on sanctions against Iran without definitive proof the Middle Eastern nation is cooperating.

"It looks like 'grovel but verify' to me," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.

Pro-Israel members of Congress are continuing to push for new sanctions against Iran as of this week, reports CNN.

Meanwhile, harsh rhetoric continues to spill from Iran's seats of power beyond Rouhani's Tuesday remarks. The commander of the Iranian army said Tuesday that no international power is able to confront Iran military, or it already would have done so.

Maj. Gen. Atoallah Salehi said international negotiations over the nuclear program have demonstrated an inability, particularly by the U.S., to win a military engagement with Iran.

"Given their weakness in the military dimension, they have opted for the political arena and we will certainly succeed in this area too," he said, according to Fars news.

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