March 19, 2018

Rouhani: Iran does not need 'permission to build missiles'

21 April 2017, 02:29 | Taylor George

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani has registered to run for a second term in next month's election, AFP reported on Friday.

"TEHRAN, Iran â€" Iran's former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday stunned the country by unexpectedly filing to run in the May presidential election, contradicting a recommendation from the supreme leader to stay out of the race.

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Rouhani's statement came as an apparently defiant response to USA efforts to hamper the Iranian military ahead of an election in May, where he hopes to secure a second four-year term.

Two years later his government and six other countries reached a landmark deal, in which Iran agreed to curb its sensitive nuclear activities in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Before Ahmadinejad made a decision to run, many believed the election would be won by incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, who negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers in 2015. Ahmadinejad flashed a V for victory sign as he registered April 12 in apparent defiance of Khamenei's advice not to run to avoid polarizing the country.

Rouhani also mentioned the giant joint gas field, the North Field, Iran will be developing with Qatar.

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"Moreover, all presidents end up facing criticism from the supreme leader - that's how the system is set up - so why put himself in that position?"

U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized the nuclear deal and said during his election campaign he would stop Iran's missile program.

Ardavan Amir-Aslani, a French-Iranian lawyer who advises European companies setting up in Iran, said he would be surprised if Rouhani does not win re-election despite the economic malaise. In 2006, he was elected to the Assembly of Experts that has powers to choose the next supreme leader, and now sits on its board of directors.

He urged the Iranians, particularly, the youngsters, to actively participate in the upcoming presidential elections.

There's been a lot of will-he-won't-he about the 55-year-old Tehran mayor this year, but he finally registered on Saturday for his third run at the presidency.

The hardline Guardian Council, which vets candidates before they stand, has prevented other influential figures from running in previous elections. The large list of potentials will be whittled down by the Guardian Council and final selection based on political and Islamic qualifications announced on April 27, ahead of the ballot in May 19.

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