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Iran: Nuclear Chief’s Resignation Sign of Division within Ruling Elite | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- One day before the anticipated gathering of the reform movement leaders in Iran Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, chairman of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency — the pragmatist politician who is close to Mousavi and Hashemi-Rafsanjani and considered the “heart” of the Iranian nuclear program where he had been in charge since 1997 – had resigned. Though the resignation letter did not mention the reasons for his decision, he is known for his very close relations with the reformist movement’s symbols and voted for Hashemi-Rafsanjani during the 2005 presidential election against Ahmadinejad. He also supported Mousavi in the recent election against Ahmadinejad.

An informed Iranian source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Aghazadeh’s resignation “is the first sign of the magnitude of difficulties that Ahmadinejad will face to form his government. Many politicians and officials who rejected the election outcome do not want to work with his government and he might find himself forced to limit his government to those who are very close to him.”

Another Iranian source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Aghazadeh is a strong supporter of Mousavi and backed him in the election and his resignation reflects the division inside the ruling elite. It added: “Aghazadeh was not an ordinary minister or official. His resignation is a big loss for the ruling establishment. I do not think the leader, Khamenei, is very happy with this news.” The Iranian source also expected the formation of the Iranian government to be a difficult process, saying there are strong speculations that Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki would resign during the coming days or ask Ahmadinejad not to include his name in the new government formation. It added that “no one is expecting Mottaki to remain in the new government. He does not want to remain in it and expressed this before in various ways.” The Iranian source did not rule out the possibility that Aghazadeh’s resignation was linked to the reformists’ plans not to support Ahmadinejad’s government or participate in it in preparation for challenging it legally in parliament and bringing it down later on.