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CORRECTED: Ahmadinejad becomes Iran’s president

August 3, 2005

Please read paragraph 15 as …The United States says he
was a leader in the student movement behind the storming of its
embassy in Tehran after the revolution and is trying to
determine whether he was a hostage taker himself, something
which he and those who took part deny… instead of …The
United States thinks he played a key role in the storming of
its embassy in Tehran after the revolution, something which he
and those who took part deny… .

By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became
Iran’s new president on Wednesday, taking office amid
international turmoil over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and his
own past.

The 48-year-old conservative former mayor of Tehran, deeply
loyal to the values of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, won a
landslide election victory in June and was appointed president
by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“I therefore … approve the vote of the nation and appoint
Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the president of the Islamic Republic
of Iran,” said a text by Khamenei read out at an official
ceremony by outgoing reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

Ahmadinejad was warmly embraced by the leader before
reaffirming his pledge to fight for the common man.

“As a servant of the republic and a drop in the endless
ocean of the Iranian nation … I commit myself to respond to
the trust and hopes of such a nation by serving them honestly,”
he told Iran’s leading figures assembled at his investiture.

Khamenei leant over to congratulate the new president on
his speech: “Bravo, really good.”

The president in Iran appoints ministers who manage the
day-to-day business of government. But the government’s power
is checked by a number of unelected bodies answerable to
Khamenei, the most powerful figure in Iran who is appointed for
life.

Ahmadinejad takes an oath of office at a further ceremony
on Saturday at which he is due to announce his cabinet.

TOUGH EARLY DAYS

Ahmadinejad takes over the government as Iran edges closer
to possible U.N. Security Council sanctions over its nuclear
program, which Washington says is a smokescreen for building
atomic bombs. Tehran insists its ambitions are peaceful.

Ahmadinejad made no specific mention of the nuclear issue,
but said: “Elements of global threat including weapons of mass
destruction, chemical and biological, which are now in the
hands of the hegemony must be eradicated.”

In order to break this impasse, EU diplomats have been
trying to get Iran to surrender its nuclear fuel work in return
for economic incentives.

But Iran says such a compromise is unacceptable and a
spokesman said it hopes to resume nuclear fuel work on
Wednesday, a move that threatens to end EU mediation.

In Iran’s opaque political system, analysts are split on
whether top policy makers are somehow setting the stage for
Ahmadinejad to save the day with a new deal or whether he is
subservient to their greater national goals.

If this mounting international pressure on the nuclear
program was not enough, Ahmadinejad also faces numerous
accusations about his past.

The United States says he was a leader in the student
movement behind the storming of its embassy in Tehran after the
revolution and is trying to determine whether he was a hostage
taker himself, something which he and those who took part deny.

Austrian investigators are looking into whether he was
involved in the murder of Kurdish dissidents in Vienna in 1989.
Again, his aides deny the charges.

Ahmadinejad also faces massive economic challenges in a
country where growth is slipping and oilfields, the country’s
lifeblood, are losing capacity.

The victory of the former Revolutionary Guard sent ripples
of fear through the investment community, compounded when he
said he would clean out corruption in the oil industry and give
no preferential treatment to foreign firms.

But analysts say investors should take a “wait and see”
approach, arguing that Ahmadinejad took a pragmatic line as
mayor of Tehran and could well do so again as president.




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