Newly installed Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said Saturday that the United States is seeking an excuse to confront Iran over its nuclear program.
The late Saturday report from state television said the remarks by Hasan Rouhani came during his meeting with North Korean official Kim Yong Nam, who is in Tehran for Rouhani’s Sunday inauguration.
“We believe the United States and the Westerners are seeking an excuse to confront the countries that they do not consider friends,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.
The West suspects Iran is pursuing nuclear weapon, a charge Iran denies.
Rouhani, elected in June, has promised greater openness over the country’s nuclear program, which has placed it at odds with the West.
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) May 27, 2013
But the elected president is subordinate, particularly in foreign and security matters, to the clerical leadership.
Also Sunday, Rouhani appointed a US-educated businessman as his chief of staff, his first appointment after taking office.
The Sunday report by the official IRNA news agency said Rouhani named Mohammad Nahavandian, a 58-year-old businessman with a doctorate in economics from George Washington University in Washington.
In his speech Saturday, Rouhani said his top priority is to resolve economic problems. Nahavandian’s appointment is seen as outreach to the private sector.
Iran’s economy suffers from international sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at developing weapons technology. Iran denies the charge.