Bomb Attack Survivor is New Iran Atom Chief


Iran has appointed nuclear scientist Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, who survived a bomb attack in November, as the country's new atomic chief, media reports said on Sunday.

Abbasi Davani, reportedly a veteran of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and a target of U.N. sanctions, replaces Ali Akbar Salehi who was endorsed as foreign minister last month.

His appointment comes at a time when talks between Iran and the world powers over Tehran's controversial nuclear program have failed.

The announcement of Abbasi Davani's appointment was declared in an order issued by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the state television website said.

"You are hereby appointed as a vice president and head of the Atomic Energy Organization considering the level of your commitment, piety and fruitful scientific and executive records," Ahmadinejad said in the appointment order carried by the website and other news agencies.

Abbasi Davani, a senior figure in Iran's nuclear program, was wounded in a bomb attack on November 29 in Tehran which the Islamic republic swiftly blamed on the CIA and Mossad.

He survived the attack, but another senior nuclear scientist, Majid Shahriari, was killed in a similar assault on the same day in a separate part of the capital.

Tehran police said that the twin attacks were carried out by men on motorcycles who attached bombs to the scientists' cars as they were driving to work.

Abbasi Davani, 52, was targeted by U.N. Security Council sanctions under Resolution 1747 adopted in March 2007. He was identified as a senior defense ministry and armed forces logistics scientist.

The PhD holder in nuclear physics is one of the few Iranian specialists who can separate isotopes and has been a member of the elite military force the Revolutionary Guards since the 1979 Islamic revolution, media reports say.

He heads the physics department at Tehran's Imam Hossein University, which is close to the Guards, and fought in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, the ISNA news agency said.

Abbasi Davani's predecessor Salehi was appointed atomic energy chief on July 17, 2009. Salehi was a driving force behind Iran's atomic program, and during his tenure the country's first nuclear power plant came online.

Iran is at loggerheads with the West over its nuclear program of uranium enrichment, and the last round of talks between Tehran and the world powers broke down in Istanbul in January.

Western powers led by the United States suspect Iran is masking a weapons drive under the guise of a civilian atomic program, a charge strongly denied by the Islamic republic.

Iran is currently under four sets of U.N. sanctions and other unilateral punitive measures imposed by several countries, including the United States and the European Union.