EU vows continued nuclear deal support following Rouhani reelection

Newly re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani walks past a picture of Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on arriving to deliver a televised speech on his presidential election victory, in Tehran, Iran, 20 May 2017. [Stringer/ EPA]

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has congratulated Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for securing reelection on Friday (19 May), assuring him that the EU will continue to work towards full implementation of the landmark nuclear deal. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Mogherini conveyed her congratulations to Rouhani via Twitter on Saturday morning (20 May), reiterating the EU’s commitment to “bilat(eral) engagement” and “regional peace”.

The Italian Commissioner also insisted that Brussels is ready to work towards full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear programme.

The EU led the often intense negotiations between the five permanent members of the UN’s security council, plus Germany, during Rouhani’s first term. The final deal means that Iran has committed itself to only using its nuclear programme for peaceful purposes.

Rouhani ultimately secured 57% of the vote, ahead of his nearest rival, conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who only managed 38.5%. More than 23 million people voted in favour of Rouhani, while 15 million supported Raisi, ruling out the need for a second round.

This first round of voting highlighted the opposition of the most conservative parts of the Islamic Republic to the policy of diplomacy and rapprochement with the West favoured by the re-elected president.

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In his victory speech, Rouhani said that the Iranian people had made their choice clear and that it must now be respected.

“Yesterday, you said ‘no’ to all those that wanted to go back to the past and stop our current progress,” Rouhani said, adding that voters had chosen “interaction witht the rest of the world based on mutual respect”.

But in a clear warning to Iran’s “enemies” and in a nod to the conservatives, he added that the people of Iran “are not willing to accept any humiliation or threat”.

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Iran’s international relations have improved markedly since the nuclear deal was signed in July 2015 but they are still strained with the United States.

The conservative elements of Iran’s political make-up accuse Rouhani of being too soft on the West and allowing Washington to maintain certain sanctions against Iran and imposing new ones.

Raisi, his main rival, accused him during the campaign of being unable to cash in the benefits that the nuclear deal has brought.

Divisions between the two camps in the lead-up to the vote were clear but Rouhani opted to strike a conciliatory tone and push for “unity” instead.

Although Rouhani was favourite going into the vote, Raisi’s close relationship with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei meant there was uncertainty right up until the votes started pouring in.

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