Iran president threatens to expose nuclear 'traitors'
( AFP ) - Iran's hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday threatened to expose "traitors" who he said were pressuring the government over its nuclear ambitions, the state news agency IRNA reported.
"If the internal elements do not stop pressures over the nuclear issue they will be exposed to the Iranian people," Ahmadinejad said at Tehran's Elm-o-Sanat (Science and Industry) university.
"These are traitors and, in accordance with the vows we have taken to the nation, we will not back down and be onlookers," he told students.
Moderates inside Iran have attacked Ahmadinejad for his handling of Iran's nuclear programme, with former presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami warning against the "serious threats" facing the country.
According to the Fars news agency, Ahmadinejad said his government was under pressure from people "who met with foreigners every week and told the enemies why they were backing down and postponing (UN) resolutions."
Iran is under two sets of UN Security Council sanctions for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, the process which makes nuclear fuel and, in highly extended form, the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
Tehran denies Western suspicions that its nuclear programme is cover for a drive to develop a bomb, insisting that it is aimed solely at generating electricity for a growing population once fossil fuels run out.
Ahmadinejad also accused his critics of intervening of behalf of a suspected spy.
"Right now they have pressured the judge in a case to acquit a spy. The Iranian nation will not allow a minority to save the offenders from people's vengeance by using their political and economic influence," he said.
Ahmadinejad did not name any individuals but his attacks appeared to be aimed at former nuclear negotiator Hossein Moussavian who was briefly detained in May on national security-related accusations.
Moussavian, who is a close ally of Rafsanjani, was accused of leaking information to a foreign embassy. He was released on bail but the case is not closed.
"We are tolerating them due to some sensitivities but when the nuclear question ends, we will express all issues in a student circle," Ahmadinejad said, speaking at the university where he used to study and teach before becoming president.
Moussavian is now the deputy head of a research institute led by Hassan Rowhani, who was Iran's top nuclear negotiator under Ahmadinejad's reformist predecessor Khatami.
The research institute operates under the auspices of the Expediency Council, Iran's top political arbitration body headed by Rafsanjani, who was roundly defeated by Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election.