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. Obama remarks on Iran nuclear issue come under fire
TEHRAN, Nov 8 (AFP) Nov 08, 2008
Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani slammed US president-elect Barack Obama on Saturday for saying Tehran's pursuit of nuclear weapons was "unacceptable," the official IRNA news agency reported.

"This signifies a pursuit of the same erroneous policy as in the past," Larijani said when asked about Obama's comment on Friday.

"If the United States wants to change its standing in the region it should send good signals," he said.

"Obama understands that change does not only mean a change of colour and superficial differences, change must also have a strategic basis," the agency quoted Larijani as saying.

Obama told his first news conference since winning the US presidential election on Tuesday that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons was unacceptable and also that he would "respond appropriately" to a congratulatory letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Iran's development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening."

Obama added "Iran's support of terrorist organisations, I think, is something that has to cease."

IRNA also quoted Larijani as saying Iran's leaders had chosen to pursue the country's nuclear programme "having calculated the risks" and was well aware that they would come under international pressure.

"But this was necessary for the future of Iran," he said, adding that the Islamic republic would not suspend its controversial programme of uranium enrichment despite UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions against it.

Enrichment is at the heart of Western fears that Iran could be seeking nuclear weapons as it can be diverted to make the fissile material for an atomic bomb as well as fuel for nuclear power plants.

Tehran insists that its nuclear ambitions are strictly peaceful and solely aimed at generating electricity.

Six major powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- have put forward the possibility of a package of technological, economic and political incentives if Iran suspends uranium enrichment.

Early in his election campaign, Obama said he favoured unconditional direct talks with Tehran, but he has since hardened his position.

Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic relations since Islamist students took American diplomats hostage for 444 days following the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed shah.

But in an unprecedented move, Ahmadinejad on Thursday sent a letter to Obama congratulating him on his election victory.

Conservative dailies also criticised Obama.

Kayhan headlined "Obama's men pro-Israeli," in reference to his appointment of Rahm Emanuel, a Jew, as White House chief of staff. It called him "a member of a terrorist Zionist group."

Jomhuri Islami's headline read: "Obama gives green light to the Zionist regime."

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