Skip to main content

Iran's new foreign minister may bring 'tough line' to nuclear talks

Amir-Abdollahian previously served as Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs.
AFP via Getty Images

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has tapped conservative diplomat Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as his foreign minister, state media outlets reported on Wednesday. Following his expected approval by parliament, Amir-Abdollahian will replace Mohammad Javad Zarif, the US-educated architect of the nuclear deal who served in the role since 2013.  

Reuters reports that Amir-Abdollahian, 56, is a staunch anti-Westerner with ties to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps. 

He previously served as Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs between 2011 and 2016. His other postings include ambassador to Bahrain and deputy chief of mission at Iran’s embassy in Baghdad. Amir-Abdollahian holds a PhD in international relations from Tehran University. 

An Iranian nuclear negotiator described ​​Amir-Abdollahian to Reuters as a “hard-line diplomat.”

“If the Foreign Ministry remains in charge of Iran’s nuclear dossier, then obviously Tehran will adopt a very tough line in the talks,” said the negotiator, who requested not to be named. 

Amir-Abdollahian’s appointment comes amid stalled efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, which offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. The Iranian government has repeatedly violated the terms of the deal since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed tough economic sanctions.  

No date has been set for a seventh round of talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna, and the election of hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi has thrown prospects for a revived deal into further doubt.

Amir-Abdollahian, who is currently an international affairs adviser to the Iranian parliament speaker, served on Reformist President Mohammad Khatami’s nuclear negotiating team. In 2007, Amir-Abdollahian participated in rare US-Iran talks over the war in Iraq.

He referenced the Baghdad talks in a 2018 tweet in which he claimed that “negotiations with the US has never been a taboo subject.”

“Negotiation in itself is not the issue here,” said Amir-Abdollahian, adding, “Rather, it is the US’ bullying behavior.” 

Raisi’s other cabinet picks include former Deputy Oil Minister Javad Owji as oil minister and Gen. Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, an ex-deputy chief of staff of the armed forces, as defense minister. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, who is sought by Interpol over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Argentina, was tapped as interior minister. None of Raisi’s ministerial appointees are women.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Free

The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.

Free

What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing
Expert

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to pro.support@al-monitor.com and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial