TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's conservative-dominated parliament rejected three of the new president's 18 nominees for his Cabinet on Thursday but approved 15 others, including those heading ministries key to implementing his agenda to reduce the Islamic Republic's international isolation and improve its economy.
Separately, President Hasan Rouhani appointed his predecessor's foreign minister as new head of the country's nuclear agency, the state news agency reported.
Hard-liners in parliament had attacked Rouhani's Cabinet nominees for having Western educations and for being close to the opposition. But after four days of debate, they only rejected three — Mohammad Ali Najafi as Education Minister, Jafar Milimonfared as Science, Research and Technology Minister and Masoud Soltanifar as Sports and Youth Minister.
Lawmakers accused both Najafi and Milimonfared of playing a role in the unrest that followed disputed 2009 elections. Soltanifar was accused of being inexperienced.
However parliament approved Rouhani's nominee Mohammad Javad Zarif for the post of foreign minister. According to his resume, he did postgraduate studies at San Francisco State University and obtained a doctorate in international law and policy at the University of Denver.
Lawmakers also approved the proposed Minister of Oil, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, 61, who previously held that portfolio from 1997 to 2005.
Hard-liners used the debates to launch their first major salvo against Rouhani's agenda since his election in a landslide victory in June, won with the backing of centrists and reformists.