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. Ex-Iran nuclear chief hits out at government
TEHRAN, Dec 5 (AFP) Dec 05, 2006
Iran's former top nuclear negotiator criticised the government for risking UN Security Council action over its nuclear programme, saying in an interview published Tuesday that sanctions would have been avoided under his policies.

Hassan Rowhani was secretary of the supreme national security council under reformist former president Mohammad Khatami, favouring more conciliatory approaches to the West.

"We wanted to act so that the nuclear issue would have the maximum distance from the Security Council and if we had continued along that path we would not be going to the Security Council," the cleric told the Etemad Melli newspaper.

"Our belief was that if we did not cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog and do not follow a the path of diplomacy it was probable that our case would be sent to the Security Council".

Rowhani was put in charge of Iran's nuclear file in 2003 but quit his post following the election victory of conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejed last year.

Rowhani's approach was bitterly criticised by conservatives and the confrontation with Europe and the United States over the Iranian nuclear programme intensified after Ahmadinejad's election victory.

His comments come as as high-ranking diplomats from six world powers were to meet in Paris to try to break weeks of deadlock and agree what UN sanctions should be imposed on Iran for its failure to halt sensitive nuclear work.

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