Prior to the parliamentary vote for the approval of cabinet nominees, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared the country’s budget, for the current fiscal year, to be about $90.9 billion.
“Hard days are coming,” the president said addressing parliament on Sunday.
According to Rouhani, nearly half of the budget is earmarked for pension funds, subsidies and development funds, he also cited job creation as a major priority for his government. But, he also added that the top foreign policy priority was to prevent the nuclear deal from being dissolved by the United States.
“The most important job of our foreign minister is first to stand behind the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and not to allow the U.S. and other enemies to succeed,” Rouhani stated in parliament.
“Standing up for the JCPOA means standing up to Iran’s enemies,” he elaborated.
Yet one week ago, the Iranian leader indicated that Middle Eastern country was ready to walk out on the nuclear deal if the United States continued to apply new sanctions.
But, he is now insisting that the deal remains intact as it is the most suitable route for development in moving forward.
“The second responsibility of the foreign ministry… is to get involved in economic activities. It should help attract foreign investment and technology,” Rouhani said.
Rouhani, who is viewed as a moderate, began his second term earlier this month after a landslide victory in May. The Parliament approved 16 of the 18 candidates; one being rejected and another remains a yet-to-be-selected candidate – minister of sciences, researches and technology.
The votes were as follows:
- Mohammad Javad Zarif, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Confirmed 236-26
- Amir Hatami, Ministry of Defense: Confirmed 261-10
- Mahmoud Alavi, Intelligence Ministry: Confirmed 252-22
- Abbas Akhoundi, Transport Ministry: Confirmed 188-75
- Mohammad Jahromi, Information and Communications Tech. Ministry: Confirmed 152-120
- Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Oil Ministry: Confirmed 230-35
- Mohammad Shariatmadari, Industries, Mine, and Trade Ministry: Confirmed: 241-25
- Mohammad Bathaei, Education Ministry: Confirmed 238-35
- Abbas Salehi, Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance: Confirmed 242-25
- Rahmani Fazli, Interior Ministry: Confirmed 250-25
- Masoud Soltanifar, Ministry of Youth and Sports: Confirmed 225-39
- Mahmoud Hojjati, Ministry of Agriculture: Confirmed 164-23
- Ali Rabiei, Ministry of Labor: Confirmed 191-15
- Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, Ministry of Health and Medical Education: Confirmed 253-18
- Alireza Avaie, Justice Ministry: Confirmed 244-18
- Habibollah Bitaraf, Energy Ministry: Rejected 133-132
The approved defence minister, for the first time in 25 years, is not affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard – a paramilitary force which reports solely to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Rejected candidate, Bitaraf, was criticized him for the absence of a plan to combat the long-standing drought and water crisis. His very narrow 133-132 vote win will likely be revisited in the future.
Though he vowed to continue his outreach to the world and to improve civil liberties at home, the president has faced criticism from reformists for not putting forward any female candidates for a ministerial position.
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