MIT PhD Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s permanent representative to the IAEA under Khatami, has been appointed Iran’s new Atomic Energy Organization chief. Appointment of a technocrat familiar with international negotiations, rather than a partisan hack, suggests Iran takes its nuclear dispute with the West seriously.
His initial remarks were firm but businesslike, avoiding the rhetoric that both sides have frequently indulged in:
Legal and technical discussions about Iran’s nuclear case have finished and there is no room left to keep this case open. We hope that more efforts be made by the West in order to obtain mutual confidence instead of the past six year’s hostile era and this case will be closed as soon as possible.
Although evidently making no reference to the possibility of Iran offering more transparency, he at least expressed the hope that relations with the West would improve, albeit by further Western efforts. Given the highly threatening “good cop-bad cop” game now being played by the U.S. and Israel, as well as the high level of domestic tension in Iran, a more accommodating statement could hardly have been expected.