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Obama's administration sports less US PhD holders than Rouhani's: Report

The Iranian cabinet that successfully reached an interim deal with world powers on Iran's nuclear programme is "one of the most technocratic in the world,' according to a new report

Ahram Online, Thursday 5 Dec 2013
Iran's new President Hasan Rouhani, waves after swearing in at the parliament, in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, 4 August 2013 (Photo: AP)

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has more PhD holders from US universities in his cabinet than Barack Obama does, The Atlantic reported Tuesday.

The report mentioned that the number of PhD holders in the Iranian cabinet exceeds the number of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain combined.   

For example, the Iranian chief of staff, Mohammad Nahavandian, earned his PhD in economics from George Washington University, while Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif received his doctorate from the University of Denver.

Zarif headed the nuclear talks with the "P5+1" (five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) in Geneva that ended with a deal to the decade-long crisis between the sides.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation Ali Akbar Salehi, has a PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT, while Mahmoud Vaezi, the communication minister, earned his PhD from Louisiana State University. 

Other cabinet members have "advanced degrees" from universities in Europe and Iran, such as Rouhani himself who got his PhD from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. His transportation minister, Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi, has a PhD from the University of London.

"It’s important to keep in mind that many of these highly credentialed cabinet members were also active participants in former Iranian administrations and backed policies that earned Iran’s theocracy its bad name," The Atlantic pointed out, describing the Tehran government as "one of the most technocratic in the world."

On the nuclear deal

The Atlantic opined that the possibility is high that the Geneva accord — that some call a “first step" towards concluding the nuclear issue — will fail "due to the actions of extremists on both sides."

Iran's nuclear deal with world powers has a timeframe of six months after which renewing talks will be considered in the "hopes of getting the big prize," which would be a permanent agreement.

Such an agreement would be consistent verification of the nuclear programme of Iran.

"Tehran’s reformists have a parallel worry: Will Barack Obama and his international allies be able to limit the bellicose positions of radicals in their midst?" The Atlantic noted.

Until now, the answer is unclear, as the "big strategic question is whether testing Iran’s intentions through negotiations is riskier than continuing to sanction and threaten to bomb it."

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