Reuters: World powers are making a mistake using the U.N. Security Council to pressure Iran over its nuclear program and negotiations are the only way out of the standoff, an influential Iranian cleric said on Friday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – World powers are making a mistake using the U.N. Security Council to pressure Iran over its nuclear program and negotiations are the only way out of the standoff, an influential Iranian cleric said on Friday.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran since December over Tehran’s failure to heed a U.N. demand to halt uranium enrichment. U.S. officials have warned of a third if Tehran continues to ignore the demand.
“What did you gain by the forceful imposition (of your will) on others using the Security Council and (imposing) sanctions, especially in an oil-rich region that can truly lead the world to problems?,” Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said in Friday prayers.
“You are making a mistake,” he said.
He did not make clear what kind of problems the world could face but some Iranian officials have threatened to curb the oil exports of OPEC’s No. 2 producer if pushed, a move that would send world crude prices sharply higher.
“The correct way is for our experts and your experts to negotiate correctly, freely and equally,” the former Iranian president said in a sermon broadcast live on state radio.
Major powers, particularly Western countries who fear Iran wants to build atomic bombs, have said Iran must first halt enrichment work for talks to start. A round of talks with the European Union last year ended without any deal.
The process of enriching uranium can be used to make fuel for atomic power plants, which Tehran insists is its sole goal, or, if enriched to a high-enough level, material for warheads.
“If they wanted the problem to be solved, they wouldn’t have set preconditions and this issue shows they don’t have good intentions,” said Rafsanjani, considered a pragmatist who backs better ties with the West.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana will meet on May 31 for a new round of nuclear talks. They last met on April 25-26 in the Turkish capital Ankara to discuss Iran’s nuclear dossier.