Iran’s new defense minister Ahmad Vahidi, who is wanted in Argentina in connection with the bombing of a Jewish centre, said on Thursday that his selection is a “decisive slap to Israel.”
Following the approval of his appointment, Vahidi addressed the possibility that Israel may attack his nation’s nuclear facilities: “Every move from the Zionist entity against Iran, will be met with a harsh and powerful response from Iran.” He said his great success in the Thursday’s Majlis vote “attests to the anti-Zionist spirit of the Iranian parliament and people”.
In response to objections voiced by heads of the Argentinean Jewish community, as well as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to his appointment. “The Zionist regime’s propaganda always has a reverse effect on the Iranian regime,” he said. Regarding the West’s suspicion of his involvement in the Buenos Aires bombing, he said, “Everyone knows that what was published was under pressure from the Zionist lobby.”
Iranian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly for Vahidi, with 227 MPs casting their ballots in his favor, the highest among the 18 nominees of the 21-member cabinet proposed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“I congratulate Mr. Vahidi for getting the highest votes,” parliament speaker Ali Larijani said. Vahidi is wanted by Argentina over a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires against a Jewish centre which killed 85 people.
The Islamic republic’s first female cabinet member, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, said that her selection as health minister was an “important step” for Iranian women. Iran’s parliament gave the nod for Dastjerdi to head the health ministry but rejected two other women nominees proposed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “I think today women reached their long-standing dream of having a woman in the cabinet to pursue their demands,” Dastjerdi told the parliamentary news service soon after the vote.
“This is an important step for women and I hold my head high.” A two-time former MP and gynaecologist by training, Dastjerdi, 50, will head Iran’s health ministry despite having no experience of an executive job. She has said she wants an increased role for women in national affairs.