Potential Candidate Series: Hassan Rowhani

Hassan Rowhani - Photo: Mehr News Agency

Photo: Mehr News Agency

Hassan Rowhani, the former Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for more than 16 years, has hinted he might enter the country’s presidential race.

Rowhani currently heads the Center for Strategic Research and he is a member of the Expediency Discernment Council, an advisory body to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, a body vested with authority to elect and remove the Supreme Leader.

Rowhani is known to be close to both the Supreme Leader and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Chairman of Expediency Discernment Council. He has a long history in Iranian politics and is a former deputy speaker of the parliament.

In 2003, during the Presidency of Mohammad Khatami, Rowhani became Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Khamenei had requested his appointment, and Rowhani held the post for two years until he was replaced by Ali Larijani when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to office in 2005. However, he remains a member of the Supreme National Security Council. Since then, he has sharply criticized Ahmadinejad policies, saying they are turning more nations against Iran and failing to fix the economy.

Rowhani helped seal a deal with the European Union under which Iran suspended uranium enrichment, in October 2003, as a gesture to the West. After he was replaced, Iran resumed those activities and has pushed ahead with them despite U.N. sanctions and resolutions demanding a halt.

In October 2012, Rowhani insisted on the participation of all groups and parties in the 2013 presidential election, and he voiced support for the formation of a nonpartisan government.

Rowhani is a Shiite cleric, born in 1948. He claims he has a Ph.D. in Law from the “University of Glasgow.” However, a university spokesperson has told Iran Election Watch that they have “no record of anyone of that name” ever having attended the University of Glasgow.

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