News / Middle East

Iran Shifts Nuclear Chief to Interim Leader of Foreign Ministry

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's nuclear chief and interim foreign minister(file photo)
Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's nuclear chief and interim foreign minister(file photo)

Iranian state media say President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fired Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaqi.  His interim replacement is Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's atomic energy agency and the driving force behind the nuclear program that has put Iran at odds with much of the world.   

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaqi was fired just a week after Iran had agreed in talks with world powers to hold more negotiations on its disputed nuclear program.

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

President Ahmadinejad offered his appreciation for Mottaqi's work, but offered no explanation for the surprise move.

His interim replacement, Ali Akbar Salehi, is believed to be closer personally to the president and, as was Mottaqi, a staunch defender of Iran's right to pursue nuclear energy.  

The Iranian government insists its atomic program is only for civilian use, but the nation has been repeatedly sanctioned by the United Nations for not revealing information that could prove there is no military component to its work.

Just days before the international talks earlier this month, Salehi announced Iran is capable of producing yellow-cake uranium, an important step in the process of enriching the material.

Salehi described the development as part of Iran's ongoing efforts to mine uranium domestically, and offered his thanks to Mr. Ahmadinejad for the push the president has given the program.  

It was widely seen as a counterpoint to the idea that international sanctions and a mysterious computer worm that had infected many Iranian nuclear computer systems had slowed the nation's efforts. 

Iranian reformist websites speculated Mottaqi was ousted for being too moderate on the nuclear issue.   But Iranian History Professor Ali Ansari, of St. Andrews University in Scotland, says the switch would have little immediate effect on the international front.

"I do not think there will be any significant change on the nuclear issue for the simple reason that not a huge amount is going on," said Ansari.  "I think that what this shows is actually more the disputes within the system rather than policy without, so to speak.   I think it reflects more a division of opinion and personality clashes within the system."

The inner workings of the Iranian government are far from transparent, leading to the modern day equivalent of Soviet-era "Kremlin-watching" - a way to understand who is in favor and who is not.  Much analysis has centered on supposed tensions between President Ahmadinejad and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.   

"Ahmedinejad wanted to have greater control of foreign policy making and he was quite keen to appoint his own special envoys on foreign policy," said Professor Ansari. "And this was a clash basically with Mottaqi on this basis.  Mottaqi felt that foreign policy should be his responsibility.  And I think he may have had a closer relationship perhaps with the supreme leader and felt the supreme leader would back him on this."

The interim foreign minister, in addition to being close to Mr. Ahmadinejad, has served as a nuclear advisor to the Iranian government and was named head of the Atomic Energy Organization last year.  He received a doctoral degree from America's prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1970's, prior to the Islamic revolution.

The outgoing Mottaqi, a career diplomat and foreign minister since 2005, is currently visiting Senegal.

You May Like

Video VOA ‘Town Hall’ Shines Light on Ebola Crisis

Experts call for greater speed in identification and treatment of deadly disease More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Funding Program Helps Extremely Poor in Ghana

Broad objective for Ghana's social cash transfer program is to lessen the impact of poverty on the most vulnerable people, elderly, orphans, those with disabilities 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.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid