Presidential elections date announced; Israeli President prefers economic sanctions against Iran; Iran protests Israeli Minister’s statement on kidnapping Ahmadinejad
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  • The Director General of the elections bureau, Ali Asghar Sharifi announced that Iran's tenth round of presidential elections would be held on June 12, 2009. The date was approved by the Guardian Council, a conservative-controlled oversight body that vets legislation and supervises elections in the Islamic republic. According to Iran's constitution, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who came to power in 2005, is eligible to run for a second term but he has so far not indicated if he would do so. Ahmadinejad has also received the support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for another term. Other possible candidates whose names have been floated include the conservative Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, and Mehdi Karoubi, former parliament speaker and head of the reformist Etemad-e Melli (national confidence) party1.

    Israel’s President Shimon Peres, after meeting with US Vice-president Dick Cheney has expressed his opposition to a military strike on Iran and stated that he preferred the use of economic sanctions to persuade Tehran to halt its nuclear enrichment programme. Peres added that “If the Americans manage to form a coalition to unify their positions with those of Europeans, they have sufficient means to exert pressure on the Iranians2.”

    Iran lodged a protest at the UN after Israeli minister Rafi Eitan suggested in an interview with a German magazine that his country could kidnap Iran's president over threats he has made against Israel. Iran's UN ambassador, Mohammad Khazee called the remarks “outrageous and vicious” and requested the UN Security Council to take action. Khazee charged that such remarks constituted a violation of international law and contravened the most fundamental principles of the Charter of the UN3.

    In domestic developments, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei urged the three government branches to coordinate in implementing the economic reform plan as well as the general policies of Article 44 of the Constitution. The plan, prepared to reduce excessive waste of the country’s resources, especially energy, and to ensure that low-income families pay fewer taxes, calls for paying subsides for various products directly to the people, among other measures. Khamenei warned that officials should not take any action which would have negative consequences on people’s lives4.

    In other developments, I&B Minister P.R. Dasmunshi told reporters that the Union Cabinet gave its approval for signing an Extradition Treaty with Iran. The agreement will provide a legal framework for bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the investigation and prosecution of crime, tracing, restraining or forfeiting of the proceeds and instruments of crime5.