Iran Says No Change in Nuclear, Foreign Policy with New Minister

Iran said Tuesday its nuclear and foreign policies will not change after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and replaced him with the atomic chief.

"Iran's major international policies are defined in higher levels and the foreign ministry executes these policies. We will not see any changes in our basic policies," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said at his weekly briefing.

"I don't think there will be any changes in the nuclear policy and the talks" with world powers over Iran's nuclear program, he said.

Ahmadinejad on Monday named Ali Akbar Salehi, a vice-president and head of Iran's atomic energy organization, as caretaker foreign minister after sacking Mottaki.

No reasons were given for the surprise move, which came just days after Iran held crunch talks in Geneva on December 6 and 7 with world powers over its controversial nuclear dossier.

Further talks are scheduled for next month in Iran's neighbor Turkey.

Salehi, 61, who was appointed atomic energy chief on July 17, 2009, has been a driving force behind Iran's atomic program, and during his tenure, the country's first nuclear power plant has come on line.

Earlier this month, at a security meeting in neighboring Bahrain, Mottaki hailed as a "step forward" remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Iran is entitled to a peaceful nuclear energy program.

Clinton had told the BBC that Tehran could enrich uranium for civilian purposes in the future, but only once it has demonstrated it can do so in a responsible manner and in accordance with Iran's international obligations.

Mottaki's comments appeared to cut across the Islamic republic's official position, repeated almost daily, that its enrichment of uranium is non-negotiable.