TEHRAN, Iran – The head of Iran's nuclear agency has resigned, an Iranian news agency reported Thursday, a move that may have been connected to the country's postelection turmoil.
Gholam Reza Aghazadeh gave no reason for his resignation, according the semi-official ISNA news agency. But Aghazadeh has long been close to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims to be the victor in June 12 presidential elections and says the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is illegitimate.
Aghazadeh is quoted as telling ISNA that he submitted his resignation from Iran's Atomic Energy Organization 20 days ago to Ahmadinejad, who accepted it. In the ISNA report Thursday, Aghazadeh says he also resigned from his other post, as one of Ahmadinejad's vice presidents.
Aghazadeh and other nuclear officials could not immediately be reached for comment. ISNA is a semi-official news agency, but Iranian officials use it occasionally to leak sensitive information.
In his post, which he held for 12 years, Aghazadeh has pushed steadily ahead with Iran's nuclear program, which the West fears is aimed at developing a nuclear weapon. Iran denies that charge, saying it wants only to generate electricity, and it rejects U.N. demands it halt uranium enrichment.
Aghazadeh in the past year has announced several times Iran's advances in manufacturing centrifuges, a key component of the enrichment program. According to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Iran has nearly 5,000 centrifuges currently enriching uranium and another 2,000 others ready to start enriching.
Still, Aghazadeh was not involved in Iran's negotiations with the West over its nuclear program, and ultimately all decisions on nuclear policy lie with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.