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Kerry: Iran has an ‘elected’ government

Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that Iran has an "elected" government, echoing a comment for which Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was pilloried in his confirmation hearing last month. "Iran is a country with a government that was elected and that sits in the United Nations," Kerry said in France standing alongside French ...

JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images
JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images
JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that Iran has an "elected" government, echoing a comment for which Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was pilloried in his confirmation hearing last month.

"Iran is a country with a government that was elected and that sits in the United Nations," Kerry said in France standing alongside French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. "And it is important for us to deal with nation-states in a way that acts in the best interests of all of us in the world."

Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that Iran has an "elected" government, echoing a comment for which Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was pilloried in his confirmation hearing last month.

"Iran is a country with a government that was elected and that sits in the United Nations," Kerry said in France standing alongside French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. "And it is important for us to deal with nation-states in a way that acts in the best interests of all of us in the world."

The comment is similar to what Hagel said on Jan. 31 when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee Iran was "an elected, legitimate government, whether we agree or not."

Some might beg to differ with that assessment.

The 2009 election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was widely suspected to be rigged. His challenger, Mir-Hossein Mousavi said so at the time and Iran saw days of unrest after Ahmadinejad was proclaimed to have secured 63 percent of the vote.

Vice President Joe Biden said on Meet the Press "there’s some real doubt" whether Ahmadinejad won. "There’s an awful lot of questions about how this election was run," he said. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at the time, "I think there are a number of factors that give us some concern about what we’ve seen."

The Washington Post published an editorial detailing statistical evidence of fraud and abuse in the election results. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said it was "clearly a corrupt election."

Hagel had to walk back his declaration that Iran was "an elected, legitimate government" after being challenged in the hearing by Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

"I can understand if you meant it’s a legal entity that has international relations and has diplomatic relations, that is a member of the UN, I do not see Iran or the Iranian government as a legitimate government, and I’d like your thoughts on that," Gillibrand said.

"What I meant to say, should have said, it’s recognizable," Hagel replied. "It’s been recognized, is recognized at the United Nations. Most of our allies have embassies there. That is what I should have said."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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