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Former Iran Leaders Speak Out Against Nuclear Policy

File photo of Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani a former predisent of Iran.
by Staff Writers
Tehran (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.

earlier related report
US Warns Iran Over Downward Spiral With UN Nuclear Watchdog
Crawford, Texas (AFP) Dec 28, 2006 The United States warned Iran Wednesday against heading into a "downward spiral" of non-cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA after Tehran's parliament authorized the government to limit the agency's access to its atomic sites. A White House spokesman, Scott Stanzel, urged the Islamic Republic to "immediately" conform to the demands of the UN Security Council to suspend its enrichment of uranium, a practice many fear is a cover for developing nuclear weapons.

"Iran has long been in non-compliance with its Non-Proliferation Treaty and required IAEA safeguard agreements," Stanzel said in Crawford, Texas, where President George W. Bush was spending the end of the year.

Further non-compliance by Iran "will worsen its situation in the eyes of the world" and generate further reports of non-compliance from the International Atomic Energy Agency, he said.

"It is hard to see how such a downward spiral is in the interest of the Iranian people," the spokesman said.

"We hope, therefore, that the Iranian regime will set aside threats and confrontation and will begin immediately to cooperate with all the requirements of the Security Council."

The spokesman's comments echoed an earlier statement by the State Department.

"We assume further reductions in Iran's already insufficient cooperation would likely lead to additional IAEA reports of additional Iranian non-compliance," spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said.

Earlier Wednesday, Iran's parliament approved a bill 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 favour and 15 against.

The move is set to further inflame tensions over the Iranian nuclear programme, which the Islamic republic has vowed to expand in defiance of the sanctions agreed by the UN Security Council last week.

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.

The formulation of the bill gives the government a free hand to limit cooperation with the Vienna-based IAEA. This could involve limiting UN inspections of its atomic sites, a move urged by several lawmakers.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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South Korean Leadership In Deepening Crisis Of State
Seoul (UPI) Dec 29, 2006
South Korea is facing a leadership crisis as the popularity of its reformist leader and his party has plunged to record lows this year following a spate of scandals, policy failures and political wrangling. In a move to prepare for next year's presidential election, top leaders of the ruling Uri Party decided this week to "divorce" from maverick President Roh Moo-hyun and his loyalists and create a new political party, which can change the country's reform-dominated political landscape.







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