A former Iranian nuclear negotiator, who plans to run in the June presidential race, attacked incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s handling of the economy, saying the country is now in a “critical” situation.
Hassan Rohani also promised to ease Iran’s isolation, which has deepened under international sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program.
Iran’s inflation has surpassed 30 percent, the population’s purchasing power has been cut by half and unemployment is at least 13 percent, Rohani told a rally in Tehran today. Ahmadinejad, during almost eight years in office, had higher foreign currency revenues compared with previous administrations, he said.
“We cannot blame sanctions for all our weaknesses,” Rohani told a gathering of about 200 people. “We could have decreased the impact of sanctions with dignity.”
Rohani, a cleric who was a chief nuclear negotiator under former President Mohammad Khatami, also has ties with ex- President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani. While local media have suggested one of them may run for re-election in June, Rohani said they would not, according to the state-run Fars news agency.
Iran is electing a new president on June 14. Candidates will be able to sign up from May 7 before being screened by the Guardian Council, a supervisory body.
Iran’s constitution bars Ahmadinejad from running for another term. The country grew more isolated under him, in part because of his rhetoric against Israel and in support of nuclear development.
Rohani promised that if elected, his government would be one of “dialogue and interaction with world.”
Since 2006, the United Nations, U.S. and European Union have imposed a series of trade, energy and financial sanctions to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear program, out of concern it might build a bomb. Israel and the U.S. have said they would use military force if necessary to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful, designed for energy production and medical research.
Crude exports from Iran, an Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries producer, declined in March to their lowest level this year, to 1.1 million barrels a day, the International Energy Agency said today.
The International Monetary Fund sees Iran’s economy growing 0.8 percent in 2013.
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