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Who determines Iran's foreign policy?

While Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei makes the final decisions on foreign policy, a number of other factors and players play significant roles.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (2nd R) waits for the start of a meeting with a US delegation at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne on March 26, 2015 during negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool - RTR4UXL4

As talks over Iran’s nuclear crisis reach a critical phase not seen since negotiations began in 2005, Western media, Iran experts and politicians, more frequently and nearly unanimously, assert that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the foreign policy decision-maker in Iran. This view, however, does not reflect the entire picture.

In 2013, during his presidential campaign, Hassan Rouhani voiced a rather unusual and unprecedented argument. At a news conference, in response to a journalist, he said, “You say that the president and his government do not have any say in foreign policy and [only] the supreme leader does. But [the reality] is not like that.”

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