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Iran Replaces Top Security Official


Iran's new Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Akbar Ahmadian is seen next to the late Iranian Major-General Qasem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, in this undated picture obtained on May 22, 2023. Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA via REUTERS

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi appointed a new head of the country’s top security body on Monday.

State media said Ali Akbar Ahmadian, a Revolutionary Guards commander, would serve as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.

The announcement gave no explanation for the change.

Ahmadian replaces Ali Shamkhani, who served in the post for a decade and played a key role in thawing relations with regional rival Saudi Arabia earlier this year.

Shamkhani also played a prominent role in negotiations with world powers on Iran’s nuclear program, which led to a landmark agreement in 2015. However, that deal collapsed in 2018, after then-U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from it, prompting Iran to suspend its commitments under the deal on uranium enrichment.

Before the official announcement of the shake-up Monday, Shamkhani posted on Twitter, hinting about the change.

Shamkhani had recently faced criticism from some quarters in Iran, including over his leading role in talks with Saudi Arabia instead of allowing Iran’s Foreign Ministry to steer the negotiations. However, Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian "denied" there was any discord between them and said about the talks, "everything has been coordinated."

Ahmadian, who now takes up the top post on the Supreme National Security Council, was previously in charge of the Revolutionary Guards’ strategic center, according to Iran’s presidential website.

He had also served as commander of the Guard's navy and the chief of the Guard's joint staff.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council reports to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who makes the final decisions on all of Iran’s major policy matters.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.