Iran's New Leader Already Showing More Moderate Tone

Jun 21, 2013

Supporters of president-elect Hasan Rowhani in the streets of Tehran the day before the election - June 13, 2013
Credit Tabarez2 / Wikimedia Commons

A week after Iran's presidential election, a previously-recorded interview run on Iranian state TV Friday suggests president -elect Hasan Rowhani may strike a more moderate tone than his predecessor.

The broadcast appears to be intended to underline Rowhani's pledge to pursue greater openness over Iran's nuclear program.

"How much is going to change is really to be determined," says Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma's College of International Studies. "The Supreme Leader (Ali Khamenei) in Iran certainly is the ultimate power-holder, so the relationship that emerges between these two and how that will have an impact on the nuclear situation is really something still to be determined."

Assistant Dean Rebecca Cruise says Iranians watched the election with anticipation of a repeat of the protests that followed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election.

"It was a remarkable election. He won with 10 million more votes than his nearest competitor," Cruise says. "He plays a unique role as both an insider and an outsider in some ways."

Rowhani has suggested that under his presidency, Iran would seek to convince the U.S. and its allies that dialogue and not sanctions are the way forward.

"The president not only has these foreign policy challenges, but also domestic challenges," Grillot says. "There's a lot of reconciliation that needs to be done in Iran, so the president has said he's there to do exactly that - to focus on the economy and domestic social issues."