Iran has appointed a new chief of its nuclear energy program after the long-time leader of the organization resigned -- perhaps in relation to the political turmoil shaking the country. The new director of the Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, has long ties with the Massachusetts Institute of Techology, and its respected nuclear studies program. He earned a doctorate in nuclear physics from MIT in the late 1970s.
Salehi was not part of a program created by MIT and the Shah of Iran in 1975 to develop a team of nuclear specialists who could drive Iran's atomic energy program forward. But Salehi rose through the ranks in Iran's nuclear hierarchy, and after the overthrow of the Shah in the Islamic revolution of 1979, he sought to recruit a number of the scientists who were in the MIT program.
|Ali Akbar Salehi talking to journalists at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in June 2003. (AP Photo/Rudi Blaha, file)|
The Globe's Washington-based international affairs writer, Farah Stockman, wrote a detailed account of that program in March 2007. Her story traced the paths of 28 of the program's 35 graduates. She found that "at least three have spent their careers building the Iranian nuclear program that Washington is now fervently trying to curtail."
Stockman underlined the unintended consequences of a program that the United States then pushed hard -- advocating nuclear energy as a viable development tool for the Shah's Iran.
She quoted Mohammad "Moe" Moghimi, a Newton resident and professor at Middlesex Community College, recalling that Salehi approached several of the program's graduates in America about returning to Iran. It wasn't clear how many actually did go home and how many stayed abroad, as Moghimi did.
Salehi was Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency until his appointment last Friday by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to head the Atomic Energy Organization. For an interesting analysis of Salehi and his background, see this article by Gareth Smyth on the Tehran Bureau website.
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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