Source AP ©

Ahmadinejad increases control over oil and industry ministers

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's control over the economy sectors supplying most of the country's revenues is to be strengthened as parliament approved his choices for the key oil and industry ministers.

The parliament gave an overwhelming vote of confidence to new oil minister Gholam Hossein Nozari, a former head of the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Ali Akbar Mehrabian was approved as industry minister by a slimmer margin.

Of 246 lawmakers attending the parliament's open session Wednesday, 217 voted for Nozari, 20 against him and 9 abstained. Mehrabian obtained only 174 votes in his favor but was still enough to win the post.

The appointments came three months after Ahmadinejad replaced Iran's key oil and industry ministers in a major cabinet reshuffle widely seen as increasing his control over the two money-earning ministries.

Some 80 percent of Iran's public revenues comes from oil exports.

Former oil minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh and industry minister Ali Reza Tahmasebi were effectively dismissed by Ahmadinejad in August for what newspapers said was their resistance to a shake-up in the management of their ministries.

Both Nozari and Mehrabian, who had served as caretakers since August, are known as close Ahmadinejad allies.

Ahmadinejad had promised to clamp down on what he claimed was the country's oil "mafias." He was forced to accept Hamaneh as oil minister only after his three nominations for the post were rejected one after the other by parliament.

Iran is the fourth-largest producer of crude oil in the world and second-largest in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, with a current production quota of about 4.1 million barrels a day. Iran's crude oil exports are about 2.5 million barrels a day.