Just two weeks before the nation’s presidential elections, Iranian foreign policy think tank the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) has issued a scathing condemnation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, accusing him of distorting historical facts about the country’s nuclear program in an effort to depict himself as a hero and improve his chances of reelection.
The group, led by former nuclear negotiator Dr. Hassan Rouhani, says that President Ahmadinejad has downplayed the history of the program’s development in an attempt to exaggerate his own role. He has also tried to tout his own role in standing up to the West, while slamming a deal negotiated by Rouhani. Yet the CSR points out that the deal was actually abandoned before Ahmadinejad took office.
It is unclear how much effect the comments will have on the election, which most are expecting will be driven more by domestic policy issues than the foreign scene. Still, both liberal and conservative challengers are criticizing Ahmadinejad for what they see as an unnecessarily confrontational stance toward the world.
Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the Prime Minister of Iran for most of the 1980’s, is seen as Ahmadinejad’s primary challenger. A reformist candidate, Mousavi has expressed willingness to negotiate with the US and has based his campaign around reforms to civil society, including enabling more private media.