Elizabeth Arrott 13 December 2010
Dismissed Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. Photo: AP
Iranian state media say President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fired Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaqi. His interim replacement is Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's atomic energy agency and the driving force behind the nuclear program that has put Iran at odds with much of the world.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaqi was fired just a week after Iran had agreed in talks with world powers to hold more negotiations on its disputed nuclear program.
President Ahmadinejad offered his appreciation for Mottaqi's work, but offered no explanation for the surprise move.
His interim replacement, Ali Akbar Salehi, is believed to be closer personally to the president and, as was Mottaqi, a staunch defender of Iran's right to pursue nuclear energy.
The Iranian government insists its atomic program is only for civilian use, but the nation has been repeatedly sanctioned by the United Nations for not revealing information that could prove there is no military component to its work.
Just days before the international talks earlier this month, Salehi announced Iran is capable of producing yellow-cake uranium, an important step in the process of enriching the material.
Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's nuclear chief and interim foreign minister. (Photo: AP)