Risking his political standing, Iran’s president stressed on Monday that he was determined to cinch a nuclear deal and prepared to take on the conservative forces who would prefer not to see an agreement with the West, even if that means continued economic sanctions on Iran.
“Some people may not like to see the sanctions lifted,” the president, Hassan Rouhani, said as Iranian negotiators and their United States counterparts resumed talks in Geneva. “Their numbers are few, and they want to muddy the waters.”
A deadline for those talks was extended by seven months after the parties failed to conclude a deal in November. Mr. Rouhani is continuing to maintain that a deal will be concluded. His foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said last month that an agreement could be reached in a matter of “weeks.”
Both men have tied their political future to the deal, analysts say. Despite the setbacks in the talks, Mr. Rouhani stays on message on what he says is Iran’s bright future.
Mr. Rouhani came to office this year promising not just to strike a nuclear deal that would lift economic sanctions but to end Iran’s isolation from the world economy and to promote individual freedoms.
“The people will achieve their rights,” Mr. Rouhani said. “You should also prepare for interaction with the world,” he told an audience of central bank employees. “You should know that in the near future many investors will come to our country.”
He acknowledged that there are groups in Iran opposed to a nuclear deal, presumably those who benefited from sanctions by tightening their grip on the economy, often officials connected to hard-line clerics and commanders.
Arrayed against these powerful figures is the entire Iranian elite, Mr. Rouhani said.
“The overwhelming majority of our nation — intellectuals, academics, theologians, the greats and the leadership — are in favor of getting the sanctions removed.”
United States and Iranian diplomats had a preliminary meeting on Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva on Monday before wider talks between Iran and six world powers get underway on Wednesday. Iran, pressured by a collapse in oil prices as well as inflation and lagging growth, wants sanctions lifted, while the world powers are demanding more control over Iran’s nuclear facilities.