News / Middle East

Former Nuclear Negotiator Joins Iran's Presidential Race

FILE - Hassan Rohani, center, during a meeting at the European Council building in Brussels, Nov. 17, 2003.
FILE - Hassan Rohani, center, during a meeting at the European Council building in Brussels, Nov. 17, 2003.
Reuters
A former Iranian nuclear negotiator announced on Thursday he would run for president, the most moderate contender so far to bid to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a June election dominated by conservatives.
 
Hassan Rohani, 64, was head of the powerful Supreme National Security Council under presidents Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, considered a master of realpolitik rather than an ideologue, and Mohammad Khatami, who pushed for wide-ranging social and political reforms.

Rohani, a Muslim cleric, presided over talks with Britain, France and Germany that saw Iran agree to suspend uranium enrichment-related activities between 2003 and 2005.

He resigned after Ahmadinejad took office in August that year. The nuclear work was resumed and Rohani was derided for being too accommodating in negotiations.

During Ahmadinejad's two terms in office, tensions with the West over Iran's nuclear program have worsened, with the United States and Europe imposing sanctions on its oil and banks over suspicions Tehran is seeking atomic arms, which it denies.
 
"We need a new management for the country but not based on quarrelling, inconsistency and eroding domestic capacity, but through unity, consensus and attracting honest and efficient people," Rohani told a gathering of supporters on Thursday, Iran's Mehr news agency reported.

The June election is Iran's first presidential poll since 2009 when mass street protests erupted against Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election.

The defeated reformist candidates in that election, Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who became figureheads for the "Green movement" - which mounted Iran's biggest street protests since the Islamic revolution in 1979 -  have been under house arrest for more than two years.

It is unclear whether the Guardian Council, a state body that can veto candidates, will allow reformists to run, but barring too many contenders risks destroying public interest in a vote which bolsters Iran's claims to democratic legitimacy.

"Straighforward Servant"

A former Western ambassador to Iran who had dealings with Rohani during the Khatami administration described him as "approachable and no-nonsense," likely to be "a calm, orthodox, efficient and straightforward servant ... and less a charismatic or an independent figure."

With nuclear policy directed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rather than the president, the election is not likely to produce any tangible policy shift there.

"My government will be one of prudence and hope and my message is about saving the economy, reviving ethics and interaction with the world," Rohani said in a critique of Ahmadinejad's economic record. "Inflation is above 30 percent, the reduction in the value of the national currency, unemployment and zero economic growth are among the country's problems."

While Rafsanjani was not present for the announcement, his son and daughter, Yasser and Fatemeh Hashemi, attended the event, an apparent indication of the former president's support for Rohani, his long-serving protege.

Also attending Rohani's announcement was Mahmoud Alavi, a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts, the body responsible for overseeing the actions of supreme leader Khamenei - indicating he has some status inside Iran's establishment.

Hooman Majd, a New York-based Iranian-American journalist and author, said Rohani -  head of an Iranian think-tank, the Center for Strategic Research - might attract some voters looking for change, without being radical enough to risk being banned.

"Rohani has been a loyal soldier of Khamenei and is not considered a threat to the system. I think it would be too much for the Guardian Council to disqualify someone like that," Majd said. "Rohani's not a personality people know very well but he could be viable with support from the Rafsanjani camp and a modern youthful campaign."

Khamenei's close advisers plan to put forward their own candidate, hoping to minimize the chances of the next president mounting challenges to the leader's authority, as they accuse Ahmadinejad of doing, especially during his second term.

Khamenei loyalists accuse Ahmadinejad of trying to erode the influence of the clergy and the supreme leader and fear he will try to extend his political influence after his final term ends in June by helping a close ally win the election.

The most likely candidate from the Ahmadinejad camp is his former chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, but there has been no official word so far on whether he will try to run.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid