NewsSpecial WireIran insists its top leaders are united over nuclear...

Iran insists its top leaders are united over nuclear policy

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Nov. 07 – Iran insisted on Wednesday that its top officials were united over nuclear policy, a day after the country’s most senior dissident cleric warned that Tehran should abandon its hard-line posture and open itself up to negotiations with the United States to prevent an escalation of its current nuclear crisis. Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Nov. 07 – Iran insisted on Wednesday that its top officials were united over nuclear policy, a day after the country’s most senior dissident cleric warned that Tehran should abandon its hard-line posture and open itself up to negotiations with the United States to prevent an escalation of its current nuclear crisis.

“There are no differences among Iran’s officials over the country’s nuclear file”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini told the London-based Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat. His remarks were reported in Persian by the government-owned news agency Fars.

Hosseini rejected rumours of a split among top Iranian officials over how to pursue the country’s nuclear policy. “Iran’s nuclear file is being governed by principles and regulations which cannot be ignored. These are based on the rights that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has given to Iran; therefore, there are no differences among senior Iranian officials on this issue.

Tehran has so far defied UN Security Council resolutions 1696, 1737, and 1747 calling on it to halt its uranium enrichment activities. Resolutions 1737 and 1747 have both imposed sanctions on Tehran in an effort to force the Islamic Republic to abandon its aggressive stance.

The news agency Reuters reported on Tuesday that Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, an architect of the Islamic revolution and once Khomeini’s designated successor until he fell out of favour, urged the government to hold direct talks with the U.S. to avoid possible military action against the Islamic Republic.

“The nuclear row should be resolved through direct talks with America to avoid a war. Talks about a possible military action should be taken seriously”, Montazeri said, adding that Iranian authorities were mistaken if they believed “an attack would rally Iranians to the leadership as they did during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war”.

“People have changed. They are not willing to sacrifice their lives like they did during the Iraq war”, said Montazeri, who was kept under house arrest in Shi’ite Iran’s holy city of Qom from 1998 until 2003.

Several Majlis (Parliament) deputies not aligned with the hard-line administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad publicly stated in October that the government should review its nuclear policy.

In a significant surprise turn of events in October, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator was replaced with a more hard-line figure. Ali Larijani was replaced as secretary-general of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) by Saeed Jalili, an ally of Ahmadinejad.

Even though, Larijani maintained he had voluntarily stepped down, the main Iranian opposition movement National Council of Resistance of Iran said Larijani’s “ouster” reflected the “depth of the crisis within the regime” and showed that it had “no intention of abandoning its drive to obtain nuclear weapons, and that it could not tolerate any schism in its nuclear policy”.

Sources in Tehran say that Larijani was dismissed because he was in favour of showing some flexibility in talks with Security Council members and the UN nuclear watchdog.

Ultimately, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say over the nuclear issue, and analysts say he would have had to personally authorise Larijani’s departure.

Separately on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad announced that Tehran had managed to successfully operate 3,000 centrifuges, the high-speed devices that produce highly-enriched uranium.

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