Islamic Republic of Iran

By Connor J. Wangler

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The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded on April 1, 1979 after the Islamic Revolution ousted the government of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Iran stands on the frontier of the Middle East serving as an agglomeration of Middle Eastern and Central Asian cultures. It has one of the largest populations in the Middle East at approximately 80 million people.

The Islamic Republic is led by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei. The President, who leads the country’s domestic and foreign policy, is ultimately responsible to the Supreme Leader and the Assembly of Experts, who elects the Supreme Leader. The current President of Iran is Hassan Rouhani.

(Source: CIA World Factbook)

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Assuming office on August 3, 2013, President Rouhani is being forced to deal with the many effects of the many international sanctions placed on Iran because of its nuclear program. According to Iranian FARS News Agency, the West and its allies accuse the country of trying to build nuclear weapons instead of developing a civilian nuclear energy program. Iran is currently subject to four rounds of sanctions by the UN Security Council for turning down the West’s call to give up its program.

According to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, “These sanctions put people under pressure, but they will not force a change in foreign policy.” However, recognizing the economic strain placed on the Iranian people, the new administration has pledged to do its best to have the embargoes lifted without altering its nuclear policy.

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Official portrait of President Rouhani

Speaking to the Tehran Times, President Rouhani discussed his appointment of Reza Najafi as the new envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He will lead nuclear program negotiations with the U.N. and other international organizations. These talks are aimed at creating a structured approach document to resolve issues with Iran’s nuclear program, particularly the Parchin military site, which the West suspects of being used to build nuclear weapons. Little progress on this document has been made, however.

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Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran

According to Euronews, however, everyday Iranians care little about the country’s nuclear program. They are, instead, concerned about President Rouhani improving the economy, which has been severely damaged by the effects of the international sanctions.

Below is a piece by Al Jazeera that details the issues that were most pressing during the recent Iranian presidential elections, most notably the sanctions’ effect on the Iranian economy.

Inside Story: Choosing Iran’s Next President

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