Iranian lawmaker backs defense chief nominee despite int'l anger

The head of an influential committee in Iran's parliament said he believes the nominee for defense minister will be approved despite accusations he was involved in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Argentina, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday. The backing of the foreign policy and national security committee raises the likelihood that Gen. Ahmad Vahidi will be confirmed as defense chief in a vote in the full legislature, which is expected to be held on September 1. His nomination last week by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad angered Argentina, which accuses him of playing a key role in the Buenos Aires bombing. The United States, which has sought to reach out to Iran under US President Barack Obama, has also said Vahidi's presence in the cabinet would be disturbing. The chairman of the parliamentary committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said the allegations "will not have any negative impact on the assessment" of the nominee, who is currently a deputy defense minister. "Rather, it may increase his vote" in parliament, he said. Boroujerdi rejected accusations that Vahidi was involved in the bombing.