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Hassan Rouhani

(1948 - )

Hassan Rouhani is an Iranian politican, diplomat and leader of Iran's nuclear negotiating team in the 1990's. In June 2013, he became the president-elect of Iran.

Rouhani (born November 12, 1948) was born in Sorkheh, a town in northern Iran. He started religious studies in 1960, first at Semnan Seminary before moving on to the Qom Seminary in 1961. In addition to his religious studies, Rouhani also studied modern courses and was admitted to the University of Tehran in 1969 where he later obtained his bachelor's degree in judicial law in 1972. Rouhani also graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University in 1995 with an M.Phil. followed by a Ph.D. degree in Law in 1999.

As a young cleric, Rouhani started his political activities by following Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during the beginning of the Iranian Islamic movement. In 1965, he began traveling throughout Iran making speeches against the government of the Shah. During those years he was arrested many times and was banned from delivering public speeches. In November 1977, at a public ceremony held at Tehran's Ark Mosque to commemorate the death of Ayatollah Khomeini's son, Rouhani used the title "Imam" for the first time as a reference to Khomeini, the then exiled leader of the Islamic movement.

When the Islamic Revolution became victorious in Iran, Rouhani returned and set to work trying to stabilize the new government. He was first elected to the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis) in 1980 and would spend five terms, 20 years, in the assembly. He served in various capacities including deputy speaker of the Majlis as well as the head of defense committee and foreign policy committee. From 1980 to 1983, he served as the leader of the Supervisory Council of the Iranian national radio and television network. During the Iran-Iraq war, Rouhani was a member of the Supreme Defense Council, member of the High Council for Supporting War and headed its Executive Committee, deputy commander of the war, commander of the Khatam-ol-Anbiya Operation Center and commander of the Iran Air Defense Force. From 1988 to 1989, he was appointed and served as Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

In 1989, after Iran established the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Rouhani became Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's personal representative to the council. Rouhani also served as the first secretary of the SNSC and kept that post until 2005. Between 1989 and 1997, and then again from 2000 to 2005, Rouhani served as national security advisor to Presidents Rafsanjani and Khatami. In 1991, Rouhani was appointed to the Expediency Council, where he heads the Political, Defense, and Security Committee.

In the elections of February 2000, Rouhani was elected to the Assembly of Experts from Semnan and in 2006 he was elected as Tehran's representative to the Assembly. From 2001 to 2006, he was the head of the political and social committee of the Assembly, member of the presiding board and head of the Tehran office of the secretariat of the assembly.

From October 2003 to August 2005, Rouhani also took on the responsibility as Iran's top nuclear negotiator with the West. It was during this time that revelations about Iran's nuclear program were addressed by the IAEA and, under leadership from the top echelon of Iran's government, Rouhani oversaw a temporary and voluntary suspension of certain parts of their nuclear program. Following the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency in 2005, Rouhani resigned from his post on the SNSC.

In October 2006, Rouhani was among a group of high ranking Iranian government officials listed in an indictment by the Argentine government prosecutor investigating the AMIA Jewish Community Center bombing from 1994. According to the indictment, Rouhani was a member of the special committee that approved the AMIA bombing. The decision for the bombing was ultimately made by Supreme Leader Khamenei, but Rouhani was present for discussions along with then-President Rafsanjani, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati and Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahijan.

In January 2013, Rouhani announced his candidacy for president in the June 2013 elections to replace Ahmadinejad whose term limit was up.  Rouhani, despite suggestions from Iranian media outlets that he may be disqualified from the race, won the election with 52% of the vote, beating out main rival Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.  He will be inaugurated as the Islamic Republic's seventh president in August 2013.

Following the election, Rouhani vowed to engage with the world. "We need to be honest, have clean hearts ... and should learn from the mistakes from the past in order to save the country," he said.

Rouhani is married with three children. A fourth child committed suicide in 1992.

Sources: Wikipedia; Al Jazeera (June 17, 2013); CNN (June 15, 2013); NPR (June 17, 2013); Foreign Affairs (June 16, 2013)