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

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs