Possibilities include Deputy Foreign Minister and senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi and Iran’s former ambassador to the United Nations European Office Mohammad Kazem Sadjadpour. However, the reported front-runner is President Rouhani’s Chief of Staff Mohammad Nahavandian.
Aboutalebi’s appointment was derailed when the US refused to grant him a visa, citing concerns about his connection to the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, in which 52 Americans were seized at their embassy in Tehran. In addition, Aboutalebi has been implicated in the 1993 assassination of Mohammad Hossein Naghdi, the Representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Rome, where Aboutalebi then served as an ambassador. (The NCRI is the Iranian opposition coalition that People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, MEK/PMOI, is its principal organization)
Iranian officials initially expressed defiance at US opposition to the appointment. But now approximately three weeks later, with the State Department having not capitulated, Iran is apparently willing to start looking at other options.