Rouhani says Iran needs "no one's permission" to build missiles

Rouhani says Iran needs

With backing from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the conservative hardliner is now in the lead for the presidential position.

Controversial presidential candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is confident that the United States is in no way a threat to his home nation of Iran, as he believes the his country is so powerful that it can not be harmed by any others.

Rouhani's statement came as an apparently defiant response to U.S. efforts to hamper the Iranian military ahead of an election in May, where he hopes to secure a second four-year term.

Rohani negotiated the Iranian nuclear deal with world powers a year ago, but some disappointment that the accord has not spurred economic growth has boosted the opposition against him.

In 2012, he became a prosecutor in the Special Court of Clerics, charged with disciplining the clergy, and spent two years as Iran's nationwide prosecutor-general from 2013 to 2015. Iranian conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi representing the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces (JAMNA) has registered to run in the presidential election due on May 19, the ISNA news agency reports.

The foundation hosts 20 million pilgrims a year at the shrine, and has also developed into a sprawling, multi-billion-dollar conglomerate that runs everything from farms and power plants to brokerages and IT firms.

Ahmadinejad had ruled out running in the wake of Khamenei's comments in September, but after reversing course this week he called the supreme leader's comments "just advice" that does not prevent him from running.

The presidency could provide a stepping stone to the top - as it was for Khamenei in the 1980s.

For now, Raisi has focused on domestic economic issues, playing to the conservative base among poorer, more religious voters. Furthermore, Raisi's domestic track-record may give Western governments and various non-governmental organizations more incentive to push for resumption of that isolation.

More than 950 people have signed up so far for the vote.

Rouhani has also lost one of his main backers: heavyweight former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who passed away in January, played a key role in the surprising landslide victory in 2013. The CHRI recently interviewed Montazeri over Raisi's candidacy and quoted him as saying, "If any of the candidates had attacked a person with a knife, he would have had a criminal record and would not get clearance from the authorities, never mind Mr. Raisi, whose record is very clear".

In light of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's firebrand reputation, he can be expected to reverse Rouhani's inroads with the worldwide community in the event that the former president reclaims his office.

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