Iran will never seek a nuclear weapon, says Iranian President Rouhani

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (centre) attend a BRICS summit in Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan republic, Russia on July 9, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

TEHERAN (AFP) - Iran's President Hassan Rouhani pledged Tuesday that Iran "will never seek a nuclear weapon, with or without the implementation" of the deal agreed with world powers in Vienna.

Mr Rouhani said live on state television that such weapons were "against our religion" and contradicted a decree from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei barring the pursuit of an atomic bomb.

He reiterated the point later in his speech, promising regional countries suspicious of Iran's nuclear programme that it has never and will not "seek to pressure" its neighbours.

Mr Rouhani also told Iranians in a live televised address that "all our objectives" have been met by the deal.

In doing so, he said "God has accepted the nation's prayers", and the accord would lift "inhumane and tyrannical sanctions" that have caused years of economic distress to people and businesses.

Mr Rouhani spoke minutes after US President Barack Obama's comments on the agreement struck in Vienna were broadcast live on Iranian state television.

But Mr Obama's speech was cut off when Mr Rouhani, who has staked his presidency on resolving the nuclear standoff with the West, took to the podium to address the nation.

"If this deal is implemented correctly... we can gradually eliminate distrust," he said, alluding to Iran's long-strained relations with leading Western states. "This is a mutual deal, a reciprocal deal," he added, noting that "all our objectives" had been met under the final deal as sanctions would be lifted and a civilian nuclear programme acknowledged.

The deal would "take the nuclear dossier" out of the UN Security Council's remit, reversing what he called "illegal resolutions" passed by the world body.

Iran Cabinet will meet Khamenei on Tuesday night, according to the Tasnim news agency.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad congratulated key ally Iran on reaching the nuclear deal on Tuesday, calling the agreement a "great victory".

In a message to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Mr Assad said he was "happy that the Islamic Republic of Iran has achieved a historic victory by reaching an agreement", state news agency SANA reported.

Mr Assad congratulated Teheran on the deal, which he said would be a "major turning point in the history of Iran, the region and the world".

He added that it provided "clear recognition on the part of world powers of the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme, while preserving the national rights of your people and confirming the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran".

Syria's Foreign Ministry also welcomed the agreement, which it said underlined "the importance of adopting diplomacy and political solutions to resolve international disagreements".

Teheran is a longstanding ally of Damascus and has remained so since the uprising that began in March 2011.

It has bolstered Mr Assad's government with aid, including loans as well as military support.

It is also a key ally of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, which has dispatched fighters to help Mr Assad's forces battle the uprising.

More than 230,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government demonstrations more than four years ago.

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