The foreign minister of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, is the quintessential technocrat-turned-politician. He has spent much of his political-diplomatic career deeply involved in the issue that consumes him today—Iran’s pursuit of what it claims is an independent nuclear fuel cycle but which much of the world believes is a single-minded quest for a nuclear bomb. Salehi holds a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has held a succession of positions at the top of Iran’s nuclear establishment, beginning as Iran’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy. In that post, he served for 11 fraught years, fending off an increasingly determined effort by the West to police Iran’s continued membership among the signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 2009, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad named him head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, a post he...

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