Ahmadinejad to retire next year
TEHRAN / MOSCOW
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) salutes supreme leader Ayatollah Khamanei (C) and former presidents Mohammad Khatami (2nd L) and Ali Akbar Hashami Rafsanjani in this 2005 photo.
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has said in an interview with a German newspaper that he plans to leave politics after his second term expires in 2013.
“Two terms in office is enough,” Ahmadinejad, an engineer, told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in its July 16 edition. Iran’s constitution prohibits a president from serving more than two consecutive terms, but Ahmadinejad also ruled out the possibility that he would let someone serve one term and then return to office four years later, as Russian President Vladimir Putin recently did.
He said he would likely return to academia, according to the Associated Press. “Maybe I’ll involve myself in politics at a university, but I will not form a political party or group,” he said. His support in the Parliament crumbled as conservative rivals consolidated their hold on the legislative body in a runoff vote last month. The result was a humiliation for Ahmadinejad, whose political decline started last year with his bold but failed challenge to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei over the choice of intelligence chief. Iran witnessed the “Green Revolution” in 2009 when protests swept the Islamic republic’s cities, denouncing Ahmadinejad’s electoral win as fraudulent.
Moscow talks begin
Meanwhile, world powers resume nuclear talks with Iran today in Moscow in the hope that a crippling oil embargo will finally force the Islamic Republic to scale back its nuclear drive. The two-day meeting follows a bruising May session in Baghdad during which Iran nearly walked out of negotiations aimed ultimately at keeping it from joining the exclusive club of nations with an atomic bomb.
“There are reasons to believe that the next step will be taken in Moscow,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Sergei Ryabkov said June 15, according to Agence France-Presse. “It is important for Russia to ensure that the negotiating process continues.” Failure in Moscow could leave the process in tatters and raise the threat of air raids from Israel, a fateful scenario in which broader conflict would lead to a spike in oil prices that could tip over the world’s teetering economy.
But a July 1 deadline for a full EU oil embargo and the June 28 rollout of U.S. sanctions against a host of Iranian oil clients is providing added incentive for Tehran to bargain more seriously. Two of the biggest bones of contention involve the speed with which world powers lift existing sanctions and the recognition of Iran’s “right to enrich.”
The latter is emerging as a key demand that Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili is likely to present to Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief who represents the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany at the talks. “We expect that Iran’s right to nuclear technologies, including uranium enrichment, will be recognized and respected,” Jalili told Russia’s RT news channel in comments translated from Farsi.
Iran, for its part, “has the capacities to cooperate in disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, so these capacities should be used by the international community,” Jalili said in the June 15 broadcast. Ahmadinejad also said that his country was ready to take a “positive step if the other party makes a similar step” at the talks. The Iranian delegation, headed by Jalili and including his deputy Ali Bagheri and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, arrived in Moscow early yesterday.