Iran’s Top Diplomat to Take Key Nuclear Complex Post

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Global Security Newswire Staff
Aug. 16, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

A re­l­at­ive mod­er­ate who has headed Ir­an’s for­eign min­istry since 2011 on Fri­day re­ceived a nod from Pres­id­ent Has­san Rouh­ani to lead the coun­try’s atom­ic en­ergy or­gan­iz­a­tion, re­pla­cing a con­ser­vat­ive who has held the post, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

As head of the Ir­a­ni­an Atom­ic En­ergy Or­gan­iz­a­tion, Ali Ak­bar Salehi would play no dir­ect role in talks aimed at de­fus­ing a long-run­ning glob­al stan­doff over activ­it­ies feared in Wash­ing­ton and oth­er West­ern cap­it­als to be step­ping stones to­ward a nuc­le­ar bomb. However, the po­s­i­tion would give him re­spons­ib­il­ity for over­see­ing Ir­an’s atom­ic sites, and for at­tend­ing a yearly gath­er­ing of In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency mem­ber states.

Former U.S. State De­part­ment of­fi­cial Mark Fitzpatrick called Salehi “the best of Ah­mad­ine­jad’s min­is­ters, a prag­mat­ist who un­der­stands how the world works.”

Salehi would suc­ceed nuc­le­ar sci­ent­ist Fer­eidoun Ab­basi, who was the tar­get of at­temp­ted vi­ol­ence three years ago.

“Hav­ing sur­vived an as­sas­sin­a­tion at­tempt, [Ab­basi] seemed un­able to over­come bit­ter­ness to­ward the West,” Fitzpatrick said.

The ap­point­ment came one day after the Ir­a­ni­an le­gis­lature signed off on nearly all of Rouh­ani’s cab­in­et nom­in­a­tions, in­clud­ing a new for­eign min­is­ter deeply versed in deal­ing with the United States, the Los Angeles Times re­por­ted.

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