Saturday, June 27, 2009
Ahmadinejad Vows Tougher Approach to West in New Term
Share | Email | Print | A A A By Ali Sheikholeslami and Heather Lang June 27 (Bloomberg) -- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed his second term as president of Iran will be marked by a tougher approach to the West, saying U.S. criticism of his crackdown on dissent over the election shows the Obama administration’s offer of talks on the Iranian nuclear program isn’t genuine. “If they think the government will be influenced, they’re wrong,” Ahmadinejad told judiciary officials at a conference today in Tehran, in comments aired on state television. “The government will have a more powerful and decisive approach in the new term.” He called Western leaders “the arrogants.” President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at a White House news conference yesterday, urged Iran to halt the violence against protesters who say Ahmadinejad’s election victory was rigged. They also said Iran must be blocked from gaining a nuclear weapon. Obama dismissed the Iranian president’s demand for an apology for “interfering.” Obama and Merkel spoke after leading Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami urged authorities to punish demonstration organizers “harshly and cruelly” to deter the opposition from seeking to annul the June 12 vote. Protesters who use weapons should be executed, Khatami told followers at Friday prayers in Tehran. He is a member of the Assembly of Experts, which elects and can remove the Shiite Muslim-led nation’s supreme leader. ‘Ruthlessness’ “A government that treats its own citizens with that kind of ruthlessness and violence and that cannot deal with peaceful protesters who are trying to have their voices heard in an equally peaceful way I think has moved outside of universal norms,” Obama said. Merkel said the Iranian people have a right “to have their votes be counted” and to see that the election results are substantiated. “I’m surprised at Obama,” Ahmadinejad said. “He said he wanted to speak to Iran and we said we are ready, but with this rhetoric? The mask is now dropped and the Iranian people, the world’s people, know they are the same. There is no change.” Obama and Merkel said the U.S. and Europe, with Russia and China, must continue pressing to bring Iran into negotiations to suspend its effort to enrich uranium. Iran has defied United Nations sanctions imposed over its refusal to stop enrichment, saying the material is for power plants and not for weapons. “There is no doubt that any direct dialogue or diplomacy with Iran is going to be affected by the events of the last several weeks,” Obama said. The U.S. and other nations can’t assume there will be a “huge shift” in Iran’s stance in international relations as a result of the protests, he said. Disperse Crowds Protesters who defied a ban on opposition rallies since the election have been met with water cannon, tear gas and clubs as security forces tried to disperse crowds. Independent confirmation of the events has been limited, with foreign journalists expelled or ordered to remain in their offices. The government said 13 protesters and eight Basij militiamen died, with hundreds of demonstrators arrested. Iran’s leadership has accused the U.S., the U.K. and Israel of instigating the violence that followed the announcement that Ahmadinejad would be president for another four-year term. The courts will determine within the next week whether to continue holding those protesters who have been arrested for minor offenses, Alireza Avaei, a Tehran judiciary official, was cited as saying today by the state-run Mehr news agency. Social Networking Iranians circumventing government disruption of the Internet and mobile phone networks have used social-networking Web sites to allege that dozens of protesters were killed by police and the militia. The subjects of the postings include Neda Agha Soltan, a young woman whose death from gunshot wounds was captured in a video shown around the world. Ahmadinejad’s main challenger on the ballot, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, this week repeated his demand for the election result to be scrapped due to vote-rigging and urged demonstrators to continue the protests, saying they are legal under the constitution. He later said he will comply with a requirement to seek permission for rallies. His previous requests have been turned down or are still pending. Ahmadinejad won 63 percent of the vote to 34 percent for Mousavi, according to the official tally. The date for his inauguration and the approval of his new cabinet will take place between July 26 and Aug. 19, the Iranian Labor News Agency said. Guardian Council The Guardian Council, which supervises elections in Iran, will set up a commission to oversee a recount of 10 percent of the presidential votes and issue a public report on the findings, the state-run Iranian Students News Agency said. The media will be able to attend the recount by the commission, which will include former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, ex-parliament Speaker Gholam-Ali Hadad Adel and Prosecutor General Qorban-Ali Najaf-Abadi. The Expediency Council, headed by former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said today that the “unique participation” of the voters was a display of Iran’s religious democracy, according to the students news agency. The council, which resolves legislative issues on which parliament and the Guardian Council fail to agree, urged the candidates to cooperate with the Guardian Council as it ratifies the election tally and provide it with evidence for any complaints. “None of Mousavi’s claims were right and we’ve had the healthiest election,” Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei was cited as saying by the Khabar newspaper on its Web site. “Except for small breaches that are seen in every election, no major violation has been committed. I can firmly say that no election fraud has been committed.” During the campaign, Ahmadinejad accused Rafsanjani of rallying support within the religious establishment for Mousavi. Security forces on June 20 detained five members of Rafsanjani’s family, including his daughter Faezeh Hashemi who encouraged protesters during a rally address. They were held briefly. Mohsen Rezai, one of the other candidates for president, said Mousavi and the fourth challenger, Mehdi Karrubi, should cooperate with the Guardian Council’s commission. Mousavi and Karrubi have rejected any proposals for partial recounts, saying a new election should be held.