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Hard-Liners Get Key Posts in Proposed Iranian Cabinet

August 15, 2005|From Associated Press

TEHRAN — Iran's new president presented a Cabinet on Sunday featuring hard-liners in all key ministries, moving the government sharply away from the moderate policies of his predecessor as it handles a tense dispute with Washington and Europe over this nation's nuclear program.

Not one of the 21 ministers nominated by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is known to favor democratic reform in Iran. Among the posts going to conservatives are the foreign, interior and intelligence ministries.

The nominations must still be approved by parliament, but Iran's legislature is also dominated by hard-liners.

The conservative lawmaker Manuchehr Mottaki was nominated as foreign minister, and a former hard-line deputy intelligence minister, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, was named as interior minister. Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, a cleric whom reformist journalists regard as an unyielding opponent of press freedom, was named as intelligence minister.

The Cabinet list suggests that under Ahmadinejad the country will move away from the moderate policies it pursued under former President Mohammad Khatami.

The nominated ministers are widely believed to be followers of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a noted conservative who has the final say on all state matters.

The proposal of a harder-line government comes as the United States and Europe struggle to stop Iran's uranium development.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is aimed only at producing electricity, but the United States accuses it of secretly intending to build nuclear weapons. Europe is trying through negotiations to persuade Iran to give up technology that can be used for military purposes and limit its program to possessing reactors using fuel provided from abroad.

The proposed foreign minister, Mottaki, is a hard-liner who has criticized the negotiations with the Europeans, saying Iran should adopt a tougher position and not make concessions.

The proposed Cabinet contained only one member of the outgoing Cabinet -- Mohammad Rahmati, who retained the transportation portfolio. A centrist, Rahmati was appointed transportation minister earlier this year.

There are no women in the nominated Cabinet. Khatami, who was president from 1997 until this month, did not appoint women to his Cabinets, but he appointed two women as vice presidents.

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