Ahmadinejad to retire from politics

Iranian president says he will finish his term in 2013 and return to academia

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi, File)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi, File)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he intends to retire from politics at the end of his second term in 2013, Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Saturday.

Ahmadinejad, a civil engineer by trade, said he plans to return to academics after leaving politics.

The Iranian president may not serve more than two consecutive terms, but may run for office again after an absence of one four-year term. Despite this, Ahmadinejad said “Eight years is enough,” in an interview with Allgemeine Zeitung that will be published on Sunday.

“Maybe I’ll get involved politically at the university, but I’m not going to found any political party or group,” he said.

He has served as Iran’s president since 2005, and served as mayor of Tehran prior to his election to the presidency.

Ahmadinejad’s announcement came days before world powers and Iran are scheduled to reconvene in Moscow for a third round of nuclear talks.

The semi-official Iranian Fars news agency described an Iranian official as anticipating “an opportunity to reach agreement” in Moscow.

Mohammed Ali Hosseini, Iran’s ambassador to Italy, said in a Thursday news conference that “practical steps” by the six major powers conducting the negotiations would show “potential in bringing about noticeable achievements for either side.”

Some US congressmen, however, remain skeptical. A bipartisan slate of 44 US Senators urged President Barack Obama to reconsider further talks with Iran unless it agrees to immediate steps to curb its enrichment activity.

“Steps it must take immediately are shutting down of the Fordow facility, freezing enrichment above five percent, and shipping all uranium enriched above five percent out of the country,” a letter sent Friday to Obama and initiated by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said.

Should the Moscow talks yield no substantive agreement, like their predecessors in Baghdad and Istanbul, the senators urged Obama “to reevaluate the utility of further talks… and instead focus on significantly increasing the pressure on the Iranian government through sanctions and making clear that a credible military option exists.”

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