Iranian atomic chief Salehi takes over as new FM

Salehi sworn in during Teheran ceremony which was also farewell for former FM fired for praising US comments on Iranian nuclear program, reports AFP; Iran's first power plant fueled up during Salehi's tenure.

December 18, 2010 10:30
2 minute read.
Head of the Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Al

Salehi 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Iranian atomic agency chief Ali Akbar Salehi on Saturday officially took over the position of the Islamic republic's new foreign minister after his predecessor, Manouchehr Mottaki, was fired by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, AFP reported citing Iranian media reports.

Reports said that Salehi will serve as the interim foreign minister until the Iranian parliament officially endorses his appointment.

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Salehi, who will also remain in his post as head of Iran's atomic energy body, was officially sworn in as foreign minister at a ceremony which was also the farewell event for Mottaki who was not in attendance, media reports said according to AFP.

Mottaki, 57, was fired last week by the Iranian president during an official visit to Senegal.

Ahmadinejad dismissed Mottaki after he praised as a "step forward" comments made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Iran is entitled to a peaceful nuclear program.

Mottaki's comments apparently undermined the Islamic republic's official stance that its enrichment of uranium is non-negotiable.

Mottaki's dismissal also came just days after nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 ended earlier this month without any signs of progress other than a commitment to meet once again in early 2011 in Turkey.

However, on Thursday The Telegraph reported that Iran is in negotiations with France, Russia, Turkey and the United States on a nuclear fuel swap deal that Teheran hopes will curb sanctions levied against it.

According to the report, Iran would send 1,000 kilograms of low-enriched uranium and all of its 30 kilograms stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium "to a safe location." France and Russia would supply Teheran with fuel rods for the medical isotope reactor Teheran claims it is enriching uranium to power.

An official involved in the talks told The Telegraph, "We think the deal is doable," but cautioned that "there's still a lot of detail to be worked through."

Salehi, 61, who has been Iran's atomic energy chief since July 2009, has been a main proponent of Iran's atomic program, and the country's first nuclear power plant fueled up just last month under his leadership.

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