Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been praised by progressive activists for allowing free elections, appointing female ministers and pushing ahead with economic reforms. Over the weekend, Western European and U.S. leaders urged Iran to accelerate its efforts to dismantle its nuclear program.
Rouhani was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 for his role in defusing a military crisis between Iran and Iraq in the late 1980s. In 2003, he became the youngest ever Speaker of the Parliament at 31.
While leader of the Ghanian parliament, he played a key role in the release of a US diplomat held hostage by radicals in Lebanon.
After serving as an aide to former President Mohammed Khatami, Rouhani became Iran’s chief negotiator in nuclear talks with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany in 2003.
At the end of the talks, he was replaced as chief nuclear negotiator by Saeed Jalili.
He served as a judge in Tehran’s revolutionary court during the 1989 takeover of the U.S. Embassy. After his release from prison, he served as one of Khatami’s senior aides.
Rouhani was defeated by hardline former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential elections, but regained momentum in 2009. He officially stood down as an aide and got elected as the speaker of the parliament.
President Rouhani has formed a council to review Tehran’s nuclear program, which will be headed by Ali Larijani, a prominent reformist and a relative moderate.