Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rohani

The new president of Iran, Hassan Rohani, has been sworn into office, promising more transparency on his country's nuclear ambitions.

Scottish-educated Rohani, 64, who once led Iran's nuclear negotiations team, condemned sanctions imposed by western nations over the issue.

He also pledged to advance the cause of women's rights during his spell in office.

On the issue of nuclear technology, Rohani - who is considered a moderate within a regime headed by Islamic fundamentalist cleric Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - said: "The only path to interact with Iran is through negotiations on equal grounds, reciprocal trust-building, mutual respect and reducing hostilities."

The speech came 24 hours after Rohani reportedly called Israel "a wound" that must be removed from the Muslim world, though Rohani later claimed he had been misquoted.

At his inauguration, Rohani also appeared to aim a swipe at his predecessor, saying Iranians want a better standard of living: "The people voted for moderation... the people want to live better, to have dignity, and enjoy a stable life. They want to recapture their deserving position among nations."

His predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, surprisingly lost power in June elections amid growing disenchantment with his failure to raise living standards in a country where inflation is running at 40%.

"The trajectory of my government will be saving Iran's economy and constructive engagement with the world," Rohani said.

"All of those who voted, whether they voted for me, someone else, or even if they didn't vote, all of them are Iranian citizens and have citizenship rights."

Attending Rohani's inauguration in the capital city Tehran were officials from communist North Korea, which has also angered the world with its own nuclear programme.

The head of North Korea's parliament Kim Yong-nam was quoted as saying: "Tehran and Pyongyang are in a common anti-imperialism stance, so in this direction, North Korea has always considered Iran's victory as its own.

"The US and the West want to deprive independent states of their own inalienable [nuclear] rights, but independent countries will resist and defend their rights."