Ahmadinejad strengthens his control over oil, industry ministries

Iran's conservative-dominated parliament approved President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's choices for the key oil and industry ministers, a move that will increase his control over the sectors supplying most of the country's revenues. The parliament gave an overwhelming vote of confidence to new oil minister Gholam Hossein Nozari, a former head of the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Ali Akbar Mehrabian was approved as industry minister by a slimmer margin. Of 246 lawmakers attending the parliament's open session Wednesday, 217 voted for Nozari, 20 against him and nine abstained. Mehrabian obtained only 174 votes in his favor but was still enough to win the post. The appointments came three months after Ahmadinejad replaced Iran's key oil and industry ministers in a major cabinet reshuffle widely seen as increasing his control over the two money-earning ministries. Some 80 percent of Iran's public revenues come from oil exports.