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. Former Iran leaders speak out against nuclear policy
TEHRAN, Dec 28 (AFP) Dec 28, 2006
Former Iranian officials spoke out against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hardline nuclear policies and urged a return to transparency and moderation, in interviews published on Thursday.

"A new government has been at work for one year and sanctions and (UN) resolutions have been adopted against Iran," said Mohammad Hashemi, the brother of ex-president Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, according to the moderate daily Kargozaran.

"For one year, leaders have been convinced that the United States could not send the nuclear matter to the UN Security Council and that there would not be a Security Council resolution (against Iran), based on the promises of certain countries.

"But unfortunately, we have seen that the United States has attained all its objectives," he said, suggesting that "as a result, in order to save the country from crisis" it was necessary to "resort to competent and moderate people."

The Security Council adopted a resolution on December 23 which imposes restrictions on Iran's nuclear industry and ballistic missile program.

Iran has refused to heed the council's demand to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that Western countries fear could be used to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its atomic drive is entirely peaceful.

Hossein Moussavian, a former member of Iran's nuclear negotiating team led by the moderate Hassan Rohani, predicted that "the next step will be the adoption of business and economic sanctions."

He advocated a policy of "flexibility, caution and patience" in order to "create trust, remove ambiguities, respond to questions from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and negotiate."

Similarly, Ali Khoram, a former high-ranking diplomat, said the situation had become dangerous because the UN Security Council resolution had placed Iran "on the same level as North Korea, which possesses nuclear weapons."

He said that "Security Council members do not need a new resolution to increase pressure on Iran, and can reach their aim with this very resolution."

Washington has said it intends to ramp up the economic pressure on Iran by aiming to convince world powers to reduce their trade with the Islamic republic.

Khoram also warned against parliament's bill approved Wednesday obliging the government to "revise its cooperation" with the UN nuclear watchdog in retaliation for Security Council sanctions imposed on Tehran.

The text of the bill, which also tells the government to "accelerate" Iran's controversial nuclear programme, was approved by an overwhelming majority in the conservative-controlled parliament, with 161 in favor and 15 against.

Preventing UN inspections would be "ill-received by Security Council members" and Iran should "prepare for their reaction," he said.

All rights reserved. 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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