President Rouhani Reiterates Iran's Non-Stop Military Growth

The race to be Iran's next president kicks off

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and hardline challenger Ebrahim Raisi registered on Friday as candidates in next month s election, setting up a bruising contest that could decide the future of the Islamic republic.

The former hardline president (2005-2013) shocked everyone by registering for the election against the advice of the supreme leader, who said it would polarise the nation.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in what appeared to be a defiant message to President Trump, said Saturday that Tehran will seek "no one's permission" to build missiles.

Rouhani, who has yet to formally register to run for reelection, signed an agreement with world powers to limit Iran's uranium enrichment in exchange for sanctions relief.

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The upcoming vote will be seen, among other things, as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, under which Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of worldwide sanctions. While many delegations have come since the lifting of sanctions, "people are not seeing a huge elevation for Iran in terms of the economy or its place on the global stage", she said. "The people's vote will determine the country's fate.The economic status quo in Iran can improve", Raisi, an ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told reporters. Rouhani also is presumed to maintain support among liberals and those wanting tensions eased with the West, though polling is hard. Security forces answering only to the supreme leader also routinely arrest dual nationals and foreigners, using them as pawns in global negotiations.

"We should always be ready especially because of the fact that we have been under military, political and economic attacks after the revolution", he said. This election is crucial for Iran as it is seen as a referendum on the nuclear deal it reached in 2015 with global powers. He is also a member of Assembly of Experts, an all-cleric body that will rule on the successor for the Supreme Leader.

The conservative-controlled Guardian Council will vet the hundreds of registered hopefuls over the coming week, before releasing a final list of candidates.

He urged the Iranians, particularly, the youngsters, to actively participate in the upcoming presidential elections. The campaign officially opens April 28 and the vote is on May 19.

His candidacy runs in opposition to a recommendation Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that he not run because it would create a "polarized situation" that would be "harmful for the county".

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