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Rouhani May Offer Way Out Of Nuclear Tensions With Iran

The election of Hassan Rouhani as president is an opportunity for a more conciliatory approach by the regional and global powers. 
EU ministers and officials and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator give news conference after three hours of talks on Tehran's nuclear plans in Geneva.   German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and EU General Secretary Javier Solana (L-R) give a news conference outside the residence of the Iranian ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, May 25, 2005 after three hours of talks on Tehran's nuclea

The decisive victory of Hassan Rouhani in the June 14 presidential election caught many politicians and commentators by surprise. Iran experts have tried not only to understand the reasons for voter participation, but also predict the foreign policy attitudes and behaviors of the new man in charge of Iran’s executive branch. It has been argued that the election results should be interpreted as an expression of dissatisfaction of the people of Iran with the growing unemployment, high inflation and other economic problems caused by the enormous politico-economic pressures that the Western world and particularly the United States have been exerting on Iran. However, this may not be  the whole story, and in fact others have asserted that many voters demonstrated their desire for more government accountability, strengthening citizens’ organizations and the de-securitization of the public sphere.

In the absence of nationwide public opinion surveys, we cannot be certain which factor or complex set of factors led to one of the highest voter turnout rates (72%) in Iranian presidential elections, and encouraged almost 51% of the voters to cast their ballots in favor of Rouhani. It is indisputable that a more moderate government will emerge in Tehran, and one can expect a president who will use less fiery rhetoric and move toward tension reduction with the Arab states and the major world powers. Rouhani is likely to select a team of experienced top Iranian diplomats and experts who will most probably drive Iran’s foreign — and also nuclear — policy in a different direction. The decisions made will be based on an assessment of present and future risks to the country’s political system and economic development.

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