Iran names new envoy to IAEA, extending makeover of nuclear team

August 27, 2013 18:42

DUBAI - Iran has named a disarmament expert as its envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog, extending a reshuffle of top officials dealing with its disputed atomic program since new President Hassan Rouhani took office vowing to improve Iran's foreign relations.

Rouhani has yet to pick someone for arguably Iran's most important diplomatic post - chief nuclear negotiator with world powers - but the pragmatist tilt of his team so far points to a closer alignment of nuclear and foreign policy.Reza Najafi, who has worked on disarmament issues within Iran's foreign ministry, will be its next ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, ISNA news agency said on Tuesday.

Najafi replaces Ali Asghar Soltanieh, who has been leading so far fruitless negotiations with the IAEA since early 2012 and was the ambassador during the hardline conservative tenure of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The UN agency wants to resume a long-stalled investigation into suspicions that Iran has carried out research relevant for nuclear weapons development, an allegation Tehran denies. Western diplomats accuse Iran of stonewalling the IAEA inquiry.

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