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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid