TEHRAN, Iran, (AP) – Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, has resigned, a government spokesman said Saturday.
The spokesman, Gholam Hossein Elham, gave no specific reason for the resignation, effective immediately, but said Larijani had cited a desire to focus on “other political activities.”
“Larijani had resigned repeatedly. Finally, the president accepted his resignation,” Elham told a press conference.
Elham said Saeed Jalili, a deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs, was to succeed Larijani.
The United States and its allies accuse Iran of secretly trying to build a nuclear weapon. Tehran denies the charge, saying its program is peaceful and aims to generate electricity, and has refused to give in to international demands that it halt uranium enrichment.
Elham stressed that Iran’s nuclear policy would not change because of Larijani’s resignation.
“Iran’s nuclear policies are stabilized and unchangeable. Managerial change won’t bring any changes in (those) policies,” Elham said.
Larijani is a former Revolutionary Guard commander and head of Iran’s state radio and television.
Elham said a meeting with the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, scheduled for Tuesday in Rome would still take place.
“Despite Larijani’s resignation, meetings … won’t change. Larijani’s successor will meet Solana instead,” Elham said.
Larijani was considered a trusted figure within Iran’s hard-line ruling Islamic establishment. He replaced Iran’s former nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani, considered a moderate, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005.
However, differences had recently emerged between Larijani and Ahmadinejad.
Larijani’s absence during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting last week with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, raised eyebrows in Iranian political circles.