The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence announced that 35 Iranians who hold a second passport and have senior government positions have been fired from their positions due to perceived national security risks.
The issue of dual nationality has become a pressing concern for the government, as there are an estimated 4mn-8mn Iranians living outside the country at any given time, some of whom return to the Islamic Republic to start businesses and represent foreign companies setting up operations in the country.
Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, a spokesman for the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said the country’s intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, recently briefed government officials on the individuals working for their respective departments.
“The minister [Alavi] said the ministry is sensitive about the ongoing issue of government officials with two passports and will disqualify whoever holds another nationality other than of Iran’s,” he said, according to the parliamentary news agency ICANA.
He added that based on the intelligence document shown to the country’s parliament, 79 people were believed to hold two nationalities, but conceded after investigations only 35 of those people had second passports.
It is not known whether these 35 people appealed to the ministry for other lesser government roles, but the spokesperson noted that many were dismissed after the allegations were released.
The number of Iranians with more than one nationality has become a common phenomenon in recent years with many middle-class people opting for a second passport due to the poor state of the Iranian economy since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
Several ministers and government aides close to the Rouhani administration are believed to hold dual nationality, including his chief of staff, Mohammad Nahavandian. Meanwhile, the son of the foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is currently a resident of the US.