News / Middle East

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman: No Change in Policy With Sacking of Mottaki

Dismissed Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki (file photo)
Dismissed Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki (file photo)

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told journalists Tuesday that the firing of Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki Monday will not affect the country's foreign policy, or positions over its nuclear program.

The sacking of Foreign Minister Mottaqi Monday was the source of more questions than answers Tuesday as journalists eagerly quizzed spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast.

Mehmanparast's stated there would be no change to Iran's foreign policy, but shed little light on what happened or what the future might bring.

He insists that on a practical basis changes in civil servants or their responsibilities are a normal feature in the workings of Iran's Islamic Republic. He added that key policies have a fixed framework and principles, and that the replacement of a minister will not change those policies.

The foreign ministry spokesman went on to praise outgoing foreign minister Mottaki and laud his just-named successor, nuclear energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi.

He says that Mottaki's almost five year stint as foreign minister was marked by great activity and great achievements and that the minister worked diligently to achieve Iran's foreign policy goals. He adds that Salehi is a thinker and a religious man, worthy of respect, and that Iran will be secure as he handles the country's foreign policy, diplomacy, and national interests.

Several conservative newspapers criticized the firing of Mottaki, and the outspoken editor of the hardline Kayhan daily called it an "open insult." The former foreign minister was on a trip to Africa when the announcement was made that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had replaced him.

Former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani Sadr calls the firing "scandalous,"  but points out that Mr. Ahmadinejad is trying to tell the world that he along with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are "in charge" of Iran's foreign policy.

He says that President Ahmadinejad went about replacing his minister in a scandalous way, since he was on a visit abroad, and even the hardliners in Iran are criticizing how he went about it. He insists that this shows that Mr. Ahmadinejad was in disagreement with his minister and that firing him was his way of telling everyone both inside and outside Iran who is in charge.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman: No Change in Policy With Sacking of Mottaki
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman: No Change in Policy With Sacking of Mottaki

Mr. Bani Sadr stresses, however, that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei must no doubt have seconded the decision to fire Mottaki or Mr. Ahmadinejad could not have done it. He also argues that the decision to name Ali Akbar Salehi to replace him could be a signal to the West that he and Khamenei will be the ultimate arbiteurs during nuclear negotiations in January.

Salehi, who holds a doctorate from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is arguably Iran's top nuclear expert. Iran analyst Gary Sick of Columbia University thinks that the choice of Salehi may reveal Iran's desire to put the nuclear issue at the core of its foreign policy.

"Salehi is one of the real experts in Iran on nuclear issues," he said. "He has been part of that forever, and really knows it top to bottom and all the details. So, if the nuclear issue becomes the center piece of Iranian foreign policy, which it might be, he is probably better positioned than almost anybody else to deal with that."

Sick notes that the choice of Salehi, who is both affable and well-versed in English, may or may not be a boon to negotiations with the U.S. and the West.

"He's known to a lot of Americans," said the analyst. "Even I have sat down with him at various times when he was in Vienna. His English is really perfect and he's an approachable person. That may or may not be important. We've had people before, who were at the U.N. and elsewhere, Iranian foreign policy people, who were all of those things, approachable, excellent English, educational background in the United States etc. and in most cases it hasn't made a difference."

Salehi also attended the American University of Beirut and speaks almost perfect Arabic. Iran's relations with most Arab and Gulf States have been severely strained in recent years, as the recent Wikileaks revelations point out, so the choice of Salehi may also be meant to repair bridges with the East, as well as the West.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

 

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid