TEHRAN — Iran’s president angrily defended himself Wednesday after coming under harsh attack during a presidential election debate the night before, saying his critics’ “love for power causes memory loss.”
Hassan Rouhani, who has been Iran’s president for eight years, is now term limited from seeking office again. During Iran’s second presidential debate Tuesday, the candidates repeatedly criticized the Rouhani administration’s “hope” campaign that surrounded its now-tattered 2015 nuclear deal.
His signature nuclear deal, which saw Iran eager to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, fell apart after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord in 2018.
“In the debates, it was clarified that only the administration suffers from problems and the parts (of government) are blameless” Rouhani said.
“Nobody dares to say that he supports blocking internet,” he added, without admitting that the real issue for most Iranians is the economy which his administration is accused of mishandling.
Rouhani went on to claim that his critics should be put on the spot about whether they want sanctions relief through a return to the accord.
“Say you do not want to return to the deal if you have such an idea,” he said. Leading candidate Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday discussed the need to “remove oppressive sanctions,” suggesting he’d back returning to the nuclear deal if the U.S. removes its sanctions on Iran.