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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid