Thursday, August 25, 2016


Profile: Iranian President-Elect Hassan Rohani

Former top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani addresses a ceremony in Tehran in April where he announced his candidacy for president.
Former top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani addresses a ceremony in Tehran in April where he announced his candidacy for president.
Hassan Rohani emerged victorious in Iran's 2013 election campaign, going from also-ran to president-elect in a few short weeks.

The 64-year-old cleric is considered a relative moderate, and is best known abroad for his role as Iran's top nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005. But he has a long resume of accomplishments as an academic, military commander, longtime parliament deputy, and holder of various high-ranking government posts.

He was born in Sorkheh, a city in Iran's northern Semnan Province, in 1948. During the election campaign Rohani described growing up in a "religious and revolutionary" family. Having to pay for his own education, he said, taught him to "stand on his own feet."
  • Spontaneous celebrations broke out in Tehran after authorities said Rohani garnered 50.68 of the vote in the June 14 election.
  • Rohani flashed a victory sign as he left a polling station after casting his ballot in Tehran.
  • Thousands of Iranians poured onto the streets of the capital and other cities after the early evening announcement on June 15 that Rohani had won the vote and obviated the need for a second round.
  • Rohani supporters took to the streets to express hope for the change that the cleric and former military commander advocated during the campaign.
  • Rohani is due to replace Mahmud Ahmadinejad, seen here casting his ballot at a polling station in southern Tehran, in the presidency.
  • Rohani supporters turned out at Vanak Square in northern Tehran soon after the announcement of Rohani's victory on June 15.
  • Iranians in the capital celebrate the Rohani victory, some of them wearing the green color adopted by the opposition that emerged from the 2009 vote in which many alleged fraud.
  • Merrymakers in the capital on June 15.
  • One of the celebrants at Vanak Square in Tehran wears a mask of the president-elect.
  • Many analysts have warned that expectations might be unrealistically high for Hassan Rohani, who does not openly identify himself as a "reformer" but was supported by reform-minded political leaders.
  • A woman flashes a victory sign alongside a photo of Rohani, a former military commander and lawmaker.
  • Rohani supporters congratulate each other after the Interior Ministry announced the result. Many critics of the current leadership put their hopes in the 64-year-old Rohani, who had expressed sympathy with political forces who were defeated in the fiercely disputed 2009 election.
  • People gather under a portrait of Rohani outside his campaign headquarters after the announcement of his victory on June 15.
  • A woman displays images of pro-reform leaders who have allied themselves behind the candidacy of Hassan Rohani.
  • Celebrations along Vali Asr Street in Tehran after Rohani was declared the winner.
  • Rohani is seen behind protective glass as he greets supporters.

He began his seminary education in 1960 in Semnan, before moving on to Qom. Later, he studied law at Tehran University. During a prerecorded televised address to the nation on May 28, Rohani claimed to have received a master's degree and Ph.D. "abroad." Earlier claims that he was educated at Glasgow University have come under scrutiny by the website Iran Election Watch.

Following Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979, Rohani entered the Majlis, Iran's parliament, and served five consecutive terms until leaving in 2000. Over the course of his time in parliament he held the positions of first deputy speaker, Defense Committee chairman, and Foreign Relations Committee chairman.

Quotes from Hassan Rohani's time as Iran's nuclear negotiator:

"Iran offered a proposal on this issue in the month of March and the three European states promised to propose a comprehensive plan in June. Iran has told the three European states that their plan must include an article that allows for Iran to produce nuclear fuel domestically." (Sharq Online; June 2005)

"Iran is opposed to any sort of weapons of mass destruction, and in addition to that, possession of any kind of these weapons is against the religious and ethical principles that we follow." (Sharq Online, June 2005.)

"I don't predict that a war would be waged if Iran [resumes] enrichment, but if we try to solve the problem undiplomatically, we will face problems." (Iranian Students News Agency; March 2005)

"We have been able to frustrate the Americans during nuclear negotiations." (Iranian Students News Agency; March 2005)

"The Islamic Republic of Iran respects the NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty]. The Islamic republic has definitely no plans to withdraw from the NPT. The Islamic Republic of Iran respects the Safeguard Agreement and is ready to cooperate with the agency [International Atomic Energy Agency] within the framework of the Safeguard Agreement. The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue with the implementation of the Additional Protocol." (Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio; June 2004)
During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Rohani headed a regional command post and later was commander of National Air Defense. After the war, he began his long term as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. During his presidential election campaign he highlighted his close relations with Supreme Leaders Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

His work as Supreme National Security Council secretary, a position he held from 1989 to 2005, also meant he had a close working relationship with Presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami.

Compromising Nuclear Negotiator

In 2003, Rohani became Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and held the post until the man he now replaces, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, was elected president in 2005. The course of nuclear negotiations adopted under Ahmadinejad and the current top negotiator, presidential candidate Said Jalili, was a source of heated exchanges during the presidential debates.

Rohani was openly critical of Jalili for taking an uncompromising approach to the West that has led to international sanctions against Iran. While Rohani served as nuclear negotiator, he once offered in negotiations with European diplomats to maintain the suspension of uranium enrichment and expressed readiness to stop manufacturing centrifuge equipment as a sign of goodwill and to prepare the ground for greater cooperation. The move was seen by his critics at home as a retreat.

Most recently Rohani has represented Tehran Province in the Assembly of Experts, which oversees the performance of the supreme leader.

Unlocking Solutions For Iran

Rohani adopted the key as his campaign symbol -- in what he called "a direct reference to the fact that the situation is locked" -- and often referred to his "Government of Deliberation and Hope."

He has called for improved foreign relations, and has pointed to Iran's immense material and physical resources as a way out of its economic crisis, which he blames on "individual decision-making, without consultation." Remedies, he says, can be found in tourism and greater involvement of the private sector in manufacturing.

Rohani has also supported greater freedom of expression and has pledged to free political prisoners.

The main achievements of his career, as noted by Rohani during his final televised campaign address, include Iran's "active impartiality" during the Gulf War, a "security pact" with Saudi Arabia under President Khatami, and Iran's "reasonable position" following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Quiz: How Fluent Are You In Iranian Political Jargon?

Written by RFE/RL correspondent Michael Scollon, based on reporting by RFE/RL, Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Sharq Online, and IRNA

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