News ID: 199004
Published: 0903 GMT August 20, 2017

Parliament Oks Rouhani's ministers, except one

Parliament Oks Rouhani's ministers, except one

Iran’s Parliament on Sunday approved 16 cabinet picks nominated by recently reelected President Hassan Rouhani, except his suggested minister of energy.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said 16 of 17 proposed ministers got the thumbs up, among them Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Oil Minister Began Zanganeh who respectively received 236 and 230 votes out of 288 members of parliament who voted. The legislative chamber has 290 seats.

Zarif was Iran's lead negotiator in the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. Zanganeh has been credited with the boost in Iran's crude output and with a multi-billion-dollar deal with France's Total to develop South Pars, the world's largest gas field.

Rouhani told legislators on Sunday that the primary Zarif’s goals should be to stand by the nuclear deal and attract foreign investment and technology.

"The most important job of our foreign minister is first to stand behind the JCPOA, and not to allow the US and other enemies to succeed," Rouhani told parliament, using the technical name for the deal with six world powers that eased sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran's nuclear program.

"Standing up for the JCPOA means standing up to Iran's enemies," he said before the parliament’s vote on his cabinet selections.

"The second responsibility of the foreign ministry... is to get involved in economic activities. It should help attract foreign investment and technology," Rouhani said.

Rouhani added that Iran needs some $200 billion in foreign investment in its oil and gas sector alone to improve them. Oil and gas are the main sources of foreign revenue for Iran. The country's crude export income reached more than $21 billion in 2016, up from some $12 billion before the nuclear deal.

The most votes went to General Amir Hatami for Defense Minister, with 261. His appointment marks first time Iran has had a defense minister who has no ties to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and is an army commander in nearly 25 years.

The defense minister is tasked with producing weapons for both the army and the IRGC.

Rouhani's nominee for energy minister, Habibolalh Bitaraf, was not approved. During a review, lawmakers criticized him for lacking a plan to fight the longstanding drought and water crisis in the country, where many towns and cities suffer from shortage.

Also approved was Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, 36, to minister of telecommunications and information technology. Jahromi received 152 votes, the least of any of the other ministers, after some lawmakers cited his lack of experience and background in intelligence.

Rouhani on Sunday defended Jahromi, saying he will be able to protect the freedom of people who use the internet since he is familiar with security threats.

The remaining ministers who were approved Sunday are either already cabinet ministers or are their deputies as well as ranking officials in the current cabinet.

Iran's cabinet has 18 ministerial posts but Rouhani did not propose a candidate for the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, which is in charge of higher education.

Under the law, the president can manage ministries which have no head for up to three months with a caretaker.

Rouhani, a political moderate, began his second term earlier this month after winning a resounding victory over a conservative challenger in May, vowing to continue his outreach to the world and improve civil liberties at home.




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