Rouhani says protest-hit Iran cannot allow 'insecurity'

Iran's economy has been battered since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions

Hassan Rouhani (AFP photo)

President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that Iran could not allow "insecurity" in the face of rioting after two days of violent demonstrations against a petrol price hike.

"Protesting is the people's right, but protesting is different from rioting. We should not allow insecurity in the society," Rouhani told a cabinet meeting, as quoted by his official website.

Rouhani defended the controversial petrol price hike -- which the government says will finance social welfare spending -- arguing the alternatives were less favourable.

"The government's purpose in the livelihood support programme is to help low- and medium-income families who are under pressure in the situation with economic sanctions," he said.

"For this... we should either increase taxes on the people, export more oil... or reduce subsidies and return the revenues to the people in need."

Iran's economy has been battered since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions.

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