US disturbed by Iran defence job

The US has said Iran is "taking a step backward" by appointing a cabinet minister suspected of terrorism.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chose Ahmad Vahidi, wanted by Argentina over the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre, as his new defence minister.

Mr Vahidi was strongly supported by Iran's parliament, the Majlis, with 227 MPs backing him out of 286, Iranian Speaker Ali Larijani said.

The US State Department described the appointment as "disturbing".

"Iran today is taking a step backward by putting into a high office a well-known individual suspected of participation in a terrorist act," said state department official PJ Crowley.

"For Iran, it is sending precisely the wrong message."

US President Barack Obama has given Iran until later in September to agree to new talks on its nuclear programme, or face tougher sanctions.

The US said it had hoped that Iran would take "a step forward to engage" with the world, showing "a new approach".

Taking up his post, Mr Vahidi was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying: "All those who act against Iran will face the iron fist of the Iranian government, nation and armed forces."

Interpol has distributed Argentina's warrant for Mr Vahidi's arrest over the attack at the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA) of Buenos Aires in 1994, which killed 85 p... >>>

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