Rouhani: 'Revolutionary Guards Should Stay Out of Politics'
In a speech on Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has carefully suggested that the elite Revolutionary Guards stay out of political involvement.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have become more assertive in politics in recent years with veteran guards crossing over into parliament.
Rouhani, the cleric who won the elections in a June, told the assembly of IRGC commanders and officials that the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had recommended the military stay out of politics.
"The IRGC is above and beyond political currents, not beside them or within them," Rouhani said, according to the ISNA news agency. "The IRGC has a higher status, which is that of the whole nation."
Guards commanders welcomed the election of Rouhani who served as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years, thus having strong ties with the military. Rouhani also used Monday's speech to praise the IRGC's economic prowess - apart from its elite military corps the IRGC has built up an economic empire which includes civilian infrastructure and engineering.
Sanctions imposed by Western countries over Iran's nuclear activities have kept Western oil firms away from Iran's energy sector, leaving room for IRGC firms to win the lucrative contracts.
"Today, in conditions in which our economy is a target (of sanctions), the IRGC must enter into action and take on three or four large national projects," Rouhani said. "The IRGC is not a rival to the people and the private sector ... the IRGC today must take on important projects that the private sector is unable to take on."
In an attempt to get out of the disastrous economic situation caused by the sanctions, Rouhani is reportedly willing to dismantle the nuclear facility in Fordo, a site which is widely considered to pose a grave threat to Israel and the West.
It was reported on Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet with U.S. President Barak Obama later this month to discuss stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
"I intend to focus on the issue of stopping Iran's nuclear programme," Netanyahu said, laying out four steps that Iran must take: halting all uranium enrichment, removing all enriched uranium from its territory, closing its underground nuclear facility in Qom and halting construction of a plutonium reactor.
"Only a combination of these four steps will constitute an actual stopping of the nuclear program, and until all four of these measures are achieved,the pressure on Iran must be increased and not relaxed, and certainly not eased," Netanyahu said.
Tehran has repeatedly denied accusations from the West and Israel who say Iran is developing and building atomic weapons under cover of its nuclear energy programme. Iran and the Western powers are due to relaunch nuclear negotiations before the end of September at a meeting in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly.