TEHRAN: Iran's army chief of staff has asked media outlets to support the policies of President Hassan Rouhani and to refrain from "spreading rumors" against his administration, reports said Tuesday.
Ultra-conservative media in Iran have frequently criticised Rouhani's moderate views on talks with world powers over the Islamic republic's nuclear programme, as well as other foreign and domestic policies.
"Some news is worthless and creates discord, some is rumours and baseless accusations," General Hassan Firouzabadi was quoted as saying by Sharq newspaper on Tuesday.
"Even media outlets that are somehow affiliated to the armed forces are making mistakes," he added, without naming any of them.
Firouzabadi went on to warn of consequences for the media for undermining the government.
"They must correct their ways, otherwise we will confront them," he said, without specifying how.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he said, had asked all political factions to support Rouhani's administration and avoid "destructive criticism (which would) create tension in the society."
Rouhani, a reputed moderate, has revived long-stalled nuclear negotiations with six world powers since being elected in June last year.
In November, Iran and the so-called P5 1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany reached an interim agreement under which Tehran froze key parts of its nuclear programme in return for limited sanctions relief and a promise of no new sanctions.
The hardline media, including Fars news agency, Tasnim news site as well as Kayhan, Javan and Vatan-e Emrooz newspapers, have upped the pressure on Rouhani's nuclear policy, as both parties are now seeking a permanent accord before a July 20 deadline.
After the last round of nuclear talks ended in Vienna on Friday with "no tangible progress", Kayhan said the talks "fortunately ended fruitless".
Its editorial criticised the West over the interim agreement it said had deceived Rouhani into accepting "too many concessions for too little gain".
Under the headline "Nuclear holocaust", Vatan-e Emrooz criticised the deal, saying it would see most of Iran's nuclear activities come to a halt.