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Iran's nuclear chief resigns

world Updated: Jul 16, 2009 19:06 IST
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The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh, has resigned, the ISNA news agency reported on Thursday. Aqazadeh, who also served as an Iranian vice president, submitted his resignation letter for the combined vice presidential and nuclear chief post to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad three weeks ago, ISNA said.

No reason was given for the resignation in the report, which also did not disclose whether it was a political or a technical decision by Aqazadeh and Ahmadinejad.

No successor has been appointed for the position, which deals with all technical aspects of Iran's nuclear programme.

The nuclear programme has been the target of sanctions by the UN. While Iran's leaders assert the nuclear programme only serves energy production, there are concerns in the international community that the country might one day use the technology to build atomic weapons.

Aqazadeh had served in the government for over two decades under four different presidents as both oil minister and head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation. He is considered a technocrat loyal to the establishment but ideologically not close to Ahmadinejad.

President Ahmadinejad reportedly plans to change half of his ministers for his second four-year tenure.

The president had however several times expressed satisfaction with the performance of the Atomic Energy Organisation and therefore, Aqazadeh's resignation is believed to be more political than technical.

While Aqazadeh, and his deputy Mohammad Saedi, were in charge of the technical part of the nuclear projects, the National Security Council is in charge of the political negotiations with the world powers.

The council's secretary, Saeid Jalili, has been the contact person of the European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who represented the UN Security Council in the nuclear talks with Iran.

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