Iranian president names hardliners for cabinet posts


IRAN: Iran's new president has submitted for approval a cabinet list putting hardliners in charge of foreign affairs, intelligence and several other key ministries. 

Most controversial was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's choice of acting Tehran mayor Ali Saeedlou to head the oil ministry of the world's fourth-largest crude oil producer. Mr Saeedlou was the president's right-hand man at the municipality, organising the capital's finances.

However, despite his degree in geology, many oil executives have expressed concern that he has no known oil industry experience.

As foreign minister, Mr Ahmadinejad named Manouchehr Mottaki, a former ambassador to Tokyo and Ankara and member of parliament's foreign affairs and national security commission.

Mr Mottaki is an outspoken proponent of Iran's nuclear programme and backed the move to restart uranium conversion last week, a decision the United Nations atomic watchdog has called on Tehran to reverse.

Mr Ahmadinejad's list of 21 cabinet nominees contained two clerics, as did the cabinet of former president Mohammad Khatami. He named no women cabinet ministers. There were no women in Mr Khatami's cabinet either.

Former prosecutor Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei was named as intelligence minister and former deputy intelligence minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi was named as interior minister.

At the culture and Islamic guidance ministry, which oversees the media and the arts, Mohammad Hossein Saffar-Harandi, an editor of the hardline Kayhan newspaper, was nominated.

About 300 hardline students, chanting "British spies should be expelled", pelted the British embassy in Tehran with tomatoes and stones yesterday during a demonstration to demand that Iran's nuclear rights be respected. - (Reuters)