NewsSpecial WireLarijani takes over Iran’s nuclear negotiations

Larijani takes over Iran’s nuclear negotiations

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Iran Focus: London, Aug. 15 – On Monday, Iran’s new hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad handed down the position
of Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council to veteran conservative Ali Larijani who will from now on take over the role of Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Iran Focus

London, Aug. 15 – On Monday, Iran’s new hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad handed down the position of Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council to veteran conservative Ali Larijani who will from now on take over the role of Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator.

The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Iran’s top decision-making body on security-related issues was until now headed by the mid-ranking cleric Hassan Rowhani who led Iran’s nuclear team in talks with the European trio of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

In a letter to Larijani, the new President informed him of his appointment, adding, “It is expected … that you activate the loyal, responsible, and creative forces and the secretariat more than ever with planning, ideas, and application as well as create the requirements to make correct decisions to ensure the honour and the benefit of the people, fulfil the interests and rights of the nation, and defend the Islamic Revolution, as well as defend the security and integrity of the country”.

Ali Larijani, a top confidant of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had already been slated to get the position and the decision had already been confirmed last Monday by Iran’s state news agency. Analysts believe that the appointment of an ultra-conservative to head Iran’s nuclear negotiations with the European Union was a decision taken by Khamenei as part of his ultimate strategy to obtain nuclear weapons.

In recent days, Larijani has effectively assumed the position of Ahmadinejad’s most senior aide as he moved to form his cabinet. He moved his office to the Majlis building close to Ahmadinejad’s temporary office. He has appeared next to Ahmadinejad in most public appearances of the President-elect in recent days, including his meeting with the visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Since leaving his post as director-general of the state-run Islamic Republic Broadcasting Corporation, Larijani sat on the SNSC as Ayatollah Khamenei’s personal representative.

Larijani was a senior commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). His brother, Sadegh Larijani, is a cleric who is a member of the powerful Guardian Council. Another brother, Mohammad-Javad, is regarded as a top ideologue of the Khamenei faction.

As the Deputy Minister of Revolutionary Guards in the 1980s, Larijani was involved in the sponsorship of terrorist activities by Iran’s surrogates in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Muslim world.

During his brief tenure as the Minister of Islamic Guidance and Culture, he adopted hard-line policies that did much to suffocate what remained of independent cultural activities in Iran. In his long years at the head of the state-run broadcasting conglomerate, Larijani introduced “Islamicised” television programmes, in a way that would comply, in his words, with “the policies and directions of the Supreme Leader”.

In Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s administration in the 1990s, Larijani became a key member of the secretive committee set up by Ayatollah Khamenei to “thwart the cultural onslaught on the Islamic Republic”. The other members of the gang were then-Deputy Minister of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) Saeed Emami and Revolutionary Guards Deputy Commander Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr.

The committee planned and carried out the chain murder of dissidents in Iran and several assassinations abroad. It also ordered the production of several television programs that were jointly produced by IRIB and MOIS to discredit the opponents of the clerical regime. When the murders and other activities of the trio became a liability for the clerical rulers, Saeed Emami was turned into a scapegoat and was arrested as a “renegade” official. The state media reported later that he had committed suicide in prison by swallowing a “hair removal” substance.

In 2003, Larijani set up two Arabic-language television stations, al-Alam and Sahar, and a 24-hour external radio network, as part of a program to introduce “Islamic values” to Middle Eastern audiences. The stations have been blamed by Iraqi authorities for instigating violence. France has since banned Sahar because of its “fundamentalist ideology” and anti-Semitic propaganda.

As the new chief of Iran’s nuclear negotiations team and at the head of the country’s highest decision-making body on security matters, Larijani is expected to bring his characteristically rigid ideological outlook to the job.

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