Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran: Foreign Ministry Says New President Won't Change Foreign Policy

Prague, 26 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Iran's Foreign Ministry said today that Tehran's nuclear policies will not change under newly elected President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. The announcement came a day after Britain, France, and several other countries called on Ahmadinejad to address international concerns about Iran's nuclear activities.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi told reporters in Tehran that the Iranian government will continue what he called its "detente policy."

"The nuclear talks are part of our macro policies which we decide on by consensus," Assefi said. "It's natural that changing the president will not change this. We are still waiting for the EU side to announce their plan. We would definitely want to come to an agreement through negotiations and understanding. We believe that our rights should be ensured in the negotiations. Based on the Paris Agreement, Iran's right to peaceful nuclear technology should be recognized."

The Foreign Ministry spokesman called on Western countries to trust Ahmadinejad and be patient until he announces his program.

"It's up to the Europeans to trust or not trust Mr. Ahmadinejad. But I think they should trust [him]," Assefi said. "They should not make prejudgments. They should send their messages and congratulate him. There is no other way. This country and its people have freely chosen their president with a high turnout of voters. This is a principle of democracy. The people's vote should be respected."

Before his election, Ahmadinejad said he will continue dialogue with any country that "does not show hostile intent" toward Tehran. He also said that establishing relations with the United States does not solve the problems of the people of Iran.

Since his election victory was announced yesterday, there has been growing speculation that Iran's foreign policy will harden and that tensions with Western countries could grow.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said today that Ahmadinejad's electoral victory will generate major problems for the international community.
"For eight years we experienced some reforms. But now, like a Persian carpet, we have to roll it up and put it away. We'll go back to the [situation as it was] eight years ago -- or to the early days of the [Islamic] Revolution [in 1979]." - man in Tehran

Mahmud Alinejad, a political analyst in Tehran, disagrees. He says the Ahmadinejad's election does not signal the beginning of hostile international relations.

"His main agenda is of course economic reform in the interest of the poor," Alinejad told RFE/RL. "The main thing he's saying is that there has been an accumulation of wealth in society in the hands of the few, and with that has come the accumulation of political power."

Meanwhile, within Iran, there have been mixed reactions to Ahmadinejad's victory. Ahmadinejad's military background and his controversial actions as the mayor of Tehran have created fear among many that he will enforce gender segregation and roll back the modest social reforms achieved under President Mohammad Khatami.

One man from north Tehran, who asked not to be identified by name, told Radio Farda he sees a bleak future for Iran under Ahmadinejad as president:

"I am not very optimistic about the future of my country," he said. "I think the situation will get worse. For eight years we experienced some reforms. But now, like a Persian carpet, we have to roll it up and put it away. We'll go back to the [situation as it was] eight years ago -- or to the early days of the [Islamic] Revolution [in 1979]."

Ahmadinejad's supporters have dismissed similar concerns. They say reforms will not be reversed and that the lives of Iranian citizens will not be regulated.

Ahmadinejad, who is due to take office later this summer, is expected to announce the outlines of his presidential program later today.

See also:

Iran: A New Paradigm And New Math

Iranians Choose Hard-Line Tehran Mayor As President

For RFE/RL's full coverage of Iran's elections, see "Iran Votes 2005"