EghtesadOnline: The reelected President Hassan Rouhani was in parliament on Tuesday to outline his plans for the next four years in office and defend the ministerial choices nominated to join his second Cabinet.
The centrist cleric, who won a 24-million-vote mandate in the May presidential poll, took the oath of office on August 5 and proposed his Cabinet nominees to the parliament for the vote of confidence three days later.
Replacing roughly half of his first Cabinet members, Rouhani showed his will to keep up the drive toward broadening Iran's international engagement and reforming the economy by injecting new blood.
The chief executive said his first government managed to take major steps to resolve some real challenges confronting the nation and Iran is now "more hopeful and capable" of tackling bigger challenges, Financial Tribune reported.
"Today, nobody talks about Iran's isolation and a global coalition against Tehran. Now, no one talks about economic turbulence and 40% inflation and decline in domestic production and halting the pace of job creation," ICANA quoted him as telling lawmakers on Tuesday.
The president said the next government will represent the whole Iranian nation, whether those who voted for him in the election or those who voted against, working to promote "freedom, calm, security and progress".
Rouhani said the relative stability in the economy and easing of tensions in Iran's foreign relations have prepared the ground for the economy to undergo structural reforms.
The president said his government is intent on undertaking the reforms, as Iran's oil revenues that have been the lifeblood of propping up the flagging economy have plunged sharply and there are no prospects for a hike in global oil prices in the near future.
"To be clear, there are two options: whether we carry out economic reforms on our will and upon reflection, or we act to survive the crises after passively witnessing exacerbating problems and paying enormous costs," he said.
Rouhani also vowed to continue efforts to eradicate poverty and corruption, create job opportunities and promote social justice, among other measures.
***Seeking a Stable Mideast
Elaborating on his foreign policy plans, Rouhani said his number-one priority is strengthening bonds of friendship with Middle East nations, as outside interferences and spread of violence are pushing the chaotic region toward collapse.
"Iran eyes a secure, powerful, stable and advanced region, and believes political, economic and security cooperation among regional states is the only path to achieve shared goals and get out of disturbance," he said.
The president said his second administration will extend its hand of cooperation to all neighbors, in the hope of encouraging peace and easing clashes in the region.
***Aiming to Remove "All" Sanctions
Rouhani said he would work with the world to remove "all sanctions" against Tehran, repeating a promise he made during the campaign season.
Speaking in a heated televised debate involving other presidential candidates, Rouhani said in May he was ready to have "other sanctions" removed, referring to non-nuclear sanctions mainly imposed by the US.
The president has nominated Mohammed Javad Zarif, his chief negotiator in nuclear talks involving Iran and world powers that led to the removal of most international sanctions against Iran, to serve a second term as foreign minister.
Rouhani said the 2015 nuclear deal, his key first-term achievement, was "a model of the victory of peace and diplomacy over war and unilateralism" and the win-win pact opened the path of cooperation and confidence-building efforts.
***US Warned Against Intimidation
Referring to antagonism toward the deal by US President Donald Trump, Rouhani said it is because Iran succeeded in restoring its rights and stood up to US bullying with the multi-party deal.
"The failed experience of sanctions and threats brought previous [US] administrations to the negotiation table. Those who are trying to get back to the language of threat and sanction are prisoners of past hallucinations ... They only deprive themselves of the advantages of peace," he said.
Hardening the US tone on Iran, the controversial US president has blasted the deal as "a disaster" and seems hell-bent on killing it by imposing anti-Iran new sanctions.
The president warned Iran could abandon the deal within hours, if the United States keeps on imposing new sanctions.
"[The deal] was Iran's preference, but it was not and will not be its only option," he said.
"If they want to go back to that [failed] experience, Iran will definitely in a short time—not in the scale of weeks or months, but in hours and days—take [its nuclear program] to a much more advanced level than the beginning of the nuclear talks [in 2013]."
After Rouhani's speech, would-be ministers presented their plans and records in the hope of securing confirmation votes. The candidate for education minister, Mohammad Bat'haei, was the first nominee to take the podium in the parliament to explain his agenda.
These sessions are expected to last until next Sunday.
The details of Rouhani's remarks on the energy and economic sectors are covered in separate stories on pages 5 and 6 respectively.