Senior Iranian cleric warns against consequences in nuclear row

Iran Materials 27 February 2008 13:48 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - A senior Iranian cleric on Wednesday warned of severe consequences in the nuclear row if Iran did not change its uncompromising approach.

"For achieving any technological know-how, we first need relations with the world - foreign policy is not just talking big but create an atmosphere of understanding," Hassan Rowhani, Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator said at a conference in Tehran.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has often said that threats and intimidation will not change the country's nuclear ambitions and rejected any compromise with the West in the dispute over Iran's suspension of uranium enrichment.

As a result, the five veto powers plus Germany are planning to issue a third United Nations Security Council resolution, including harsher financial sanctions, against the Islamic state. Ahmadinejad has dismissed the move.

"We cannot just say we are right and you are wrong - it just doesn't work this way," Rowhani, who belongs to the moderate faction close to former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, said.

"We cannot just ignore (international) bodies and their decisions and it would definitely be more advisable to be predictable (for the West), following transparency in our policies rather than ambiguities," the cleric said.

Rowhani made the comments at a conference on Iran's foreign policy prospects dealing with the question of whether the country should just adopt policies to maintain the system or also policies for helping its political and economic growth and development.

Ahmadinejad has blamed Rowhani and his predecessor for having made concessions in the nuclear dispute and exposed the nuclear progress as an achievement of himself and government.

"We should ask ourselves whether we want an atmosphere of security or not and we have to clarify the border between surrender and creating an atmosphere of understanding," Rowhani said, countering Ahmadinejad's charges.

"Foreign policy does mean neutralizing threats and making new opportunities in line with national interests and not the opposite," he said referring to Iran's gradual isolation since Ahmadinejad took office in August 2005.

The former chief nuclear negotiator also blamed the president for exaggerating Iran's nuclear know-how and technical progress.

"We should not forget where we really stand. Slogans alone will eventually not be benefit our (nuclear) cause," Rowhani said.

According to Ahmadinejad, Iran has obtained full nuclear know-how and already switched to uranium enrichment at industrial scale, including the use of high-speed P2 centrifuges.

Other officials in the country directly linked to the nuclear work are however more reserved in this regard and have so far refrained from confirming all the president's claims.