updated 2/13/2011 10:00:57 AM ET 2011-02-13T15:00:57

Iran's presidential office says a nuclear scientist who recently survived an assassination attempt has been appointed the new head to the country's nuclear program.

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Fereidoun Abbasi, a 52-year-old professor of nuclear isotopes at Tehran's Defense Ministry, was seriously wounded in a bomb attack in November.

The statement which appeared on the website Sunday, said Iran's president appointed Abbasi as head of the nuclear energy agency, succeeding Ali Akbar Salehi who earlier became foreign minister.

Iran's nuclear chief is also automatically a vice president.

Iran's nuclear program has been matter of the international concern over the past years. The West suspects the program has aimed at building weapons, a charge Iran denies.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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