Iran’s Rouhani sworn in as tensions simmer over nuclear deal

Tehran (AFP) – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani warned the US against tearing up the nuclear deal as he was inaugurated for a second term Saturday, but he also faces challenges closer to home amid accusations he is rolling over to conservatives.

Rouhani met with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini before the ceremony and called for greater efforts to safeguard the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers in the face of new US sanctions.

“Iran will not be the first to violate the nuclear deal… but nor will it stay silent when the United States fails to respect its commitments,” he told the packed parliament hall.

“Iran has proved that it will respond to respect with respect, and to sanctions and threats with an appropriate response and with resistance,” he added.

Some of Iran’s older friends, including Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, also attended the ceremony which came two days after Rouhani was officially sworn in by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The emir of Qatar, which has fallen out with its Gulf allies in part over ties to Iran, was notably absent, despite attending Rouhani’s last inauguration in 2013.

– Reformist criticism –

But among Iranians, the real attention was on who would be named to Rouhani’s new cabinet.

He has already been barraged with criticism over indications that women would again be entirely absent and that his reformist allies would barely be represented.

Rouhani’s last government had three women among a large cohort of vice-presidents, but they lacked ministerial roles that would require approval by parliament.

“It was the reformists that allowed him to win the elections in 2013 and 2017… he must listen to those who supported him,” Rassoul Montajabnia of the reformist National Confidence party told the Arman newspaper.

Rouhani won a convincing victory over hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi in the May presidential election, vowing to continue rebuilding ties with the West and easing social restrictions at home.

That helped win over the reformists — whose candidates dropped out of the last two elections to ensure his victory.

“Rouhani created a lot of expectation and now there is a sense that he is retreating from his promises,” said Ali Shakourirad, head of the reformist People’s Unity Party.

The absence of women was down to pressure from religious conservatives behind the scenes, Shakourirad said.

“Rouhani didn’t want to make his task any more complicated than it already is,” he told AFP.

The final line-up is due…

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