Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Ahmadinejad, One Year Later

Council on Foreign Relations

August 8, 2006
Prepared by: Lionel Beehner

Last August, a previously unknown mayor of Tehran assumed control as president of Iran. Populist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (BBC) ran on a platform of returning to the "roots of the revolution," promising reforms and economic improvements for Iran's downtrodden masses. Shortly after taking office, Ahmadinejad echoed the late Ayatollah Khomeini's pronouncements against the United States and Israel, affirming the country's determination to acquire nuclear technologies at whatever cost to its reputation or pocketbook. He played on Iranians' feelings of disenfranchisement and sought to restore the country's greatness (RFE/RL).

One year later, President Ahmadinejad has emerged as one of the world's leading anti-U.S., anti-Israeli voices. His rhetoric has inflamed an already tense Middle East. His push for a uranium-enrichment program has divided the UN Security Council on how to punish Iran without rattling energy markets. And his support for Hezbollah and Hamas has contributed to a conflict that continues to engulf the Levant, leaving hundreds of Lebanese and Israeli innocents dead. To be sure, Ahmadinejad occupies just one of Iran's several poles of power in a country where the supreme authority figure is Ayatollah Khamenei, but he did take the unusual step of writing a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush, ending a quarter century of no official contacts between Tehran and Washington.


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