( Newsvine ) - Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator delivered an unusually sharp rebuke to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's policies Wednesday, saying they are turning more nations against Iran and failing to fix the struggling economy.
The comments by Hasan Rowhani were the harshest yet against the hard-line president by a prominent figure in the Iranian leadership, and came after critics had grown muted in recent month as the government stirred up fears of conflict with the U.S. and warned against dissent.
The criticism echoed complaints early this year from conservative supporters of Ahmadinejad that his inflammatory rhetoric was needlessly goading the West in the confrontation over Iran's nuclear program and that he hadn't fulfilled promises to improve the economy.
Rowhani was replaced as nuclear negotiator when Ahmadinejad came to office in 2005, but he remains a member of the Supreme National Security Council and sits on two powerful cleric-run bodies, the Experts Assembly and the Expediency Council.
Speaking to the pro-reform Moderation and Development Party, he did not directly mention Ahmadinejad , but was clearly referring to his policies. His comments were reported by the semiofficial ISNA and Mehr news agencies and confirmed to The Associated Press by people who heard the speech.
"On the international stage, we are under threat more than any other time," Rowhani said. "The country's diplomacy will be successful if it doesn't allow the enemy to win the backing of other countries against us. Unfortunately, the number of our enemies are increasing. Up to yesterday, Britain stood by the U.S., but now France has joined the United States more closely."