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Salehi Returns As Iran's Nuclear Chief

Ali Akbar Salehi

Ali Akbar Salehi

President Hassan Rohani has named Ali Akbar Salehi to be Iran’s new nuclear chief.

Salehi has extensive experience in Iran’s nuclear program, having served previously as both head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization and Tehran’s envoy to the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency.

Salehi, who served as foreign minister under former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, is regarded as a nuclear expert and moderate politician.

Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament, meanwhile, on August 15 approved 15 of Rohani’s choices for his new cabinet, but rejected three.

The approval hearings in the conservative-dominated legislature were seen as the first key test for Rohani.

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said after the voting that the proposed ministers of education, science, research, and technology, and sports did not win lawmakers' backing.

Voting was on a candidate-by-candidate basis, not the cabinet as a whole.

During four days of debates, lawmakers accused the nominee for education minister, Mohammad Ali Najafi, and the nominee for science, research, and technology minister, Jafar Milimonfared, of playing a role in the unrest that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election.

Masoud Soltanifar, nominated as sports minister, was accused of being inexperienced.

Rohani was elected in June and took office on August 4.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and AFP