WOODBURY - Thousands of Iranians celebrated in the streets yesterday after the moderate candidate Hasan Rowhani was declared the victor of the country's presidential election, but much of the world is now wondering how much change he's capable of spurring.
Rowhani, the former Iranian security council chief, received just over 50 percent of Friday's vote and was the lone moderate in the race. He has pledged to create an environment with more personal freedoms for his people and to reduce tensions between Iran and the rest of the world. He says he plans to do that by addressing the sanctions on the country's nuclear program.
However, officials from other nations are skeptical. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Rowhani has little power. "Iran's ruler, the so-called supreme leader, is the one who determines the nuclear policy, and not the president. The more pressure exerted on Iran, the greater the chances to bring an end to Iran's nuclear weapons program," Netanyahu declared.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism, agrees with Netanyahu. He says Iran's supreme leader remains the country's most powerful man, and says the president has but a limited role.
King adds that Rowhani has made anti-Israel statements over the years and has always been part of the ruling establishment. King says he doesn't believe the election results are a signal of progress.
The Obama administration says it respects the results of the presidential election despite the limitations the government imposed on the process. White House spokesman Jay Carney says the U.S. hopes that the new government will heed the will of the Iranian people and makes choices that will create a better future.