Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Religious Approval to Take Office

The Wall Street Journal:
President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received religious approval to take office in a ceremony presided over by Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday. READ MORE

Mr. Ahmadinejad, the former mayor of Tehran who won the June elections amid allegations of unfair practices, pledged to work for social justice and the alleviation of poverty in his term, which will officially begin after his swearing-in on Saturday.

"The deprived people and the poor people will be the first priority on my agenda," Mr. Ahmadinejad told a crowd of hundreds of clerics, legislators and government officials in a Tehran Islamic institution.

Among the audience members was outgoing President Mohammad Khatami and the man Mr. Ahmadinejad defeated in the second-round run-off, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

In the short ceremony, the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, conferred on Mr. Ahmadinejad the religious authority to be president.

The president-elect, who was backed by many hard-line clerics during the polls, said he would fulfill his electoral promises with the help of God and "under the guidance of the supreme leader."

Tehran is in a confrontation with the European Union over Iran's nuclear program. On Tuesday, Tehran rejected Europe's threat to cut off negotiations should it resume uranium processing, however the Iranians appeared willing to give the United Nations more time to send inspectors before it did so. Foreign ministers of the U.K., France and Germany wrote to Iran's top nuclear negotiator warning that restarting work will "terminate our dialogue" and push the Europeans to seek a special session of the IAEA board of governors.

"Were Iran to resume currently suspended activities, our negotiations would be brought to an end, and we would have no option but to pursue other courses of action," they said. Iran rejected the Europeans' letter and suggested Europe was not fulfilling its promises to Iran.