A group of Iranian dissidents for the first time openly called on their government to suspend uranium enrichment, in an open letter published Monday that adds to the momentum of the international effort to convince Tehran to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons program, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
"The current deadlock over Iran's nuclear ambitions and empty power play will set the stage for war and the people of Iran will have to pay the price," said the letter.
The open letter published Monday was signed by 175 expatriate dissidents, and was endorsed and publicized by a student activist website inside Iran, Daneshjoonews, suggesting it had supporters in the country as well.
Ali Afshari, a student activist now exiled in Washington who helped write the letter, said the draft was seen and approved by prominent activists inside Iran, but they refrained from signing their names in fear of retribution.
The letter called Iran's nuclear policy "provocative and stubborn" and said Iran should immediately halt any nuclear weapon program in the interest of easing tensions and further economic hardship on its population.
"We are calling for Iranian people to make halting the nuclear program a priority just like human rights and democracy," said Mr. Afshari. "There is no reason for the public to pay the price of the government's mistakes."
Some Iranians are increasingly asking whether a nuclear program is worth the price of more sanctions and a possible war. "What have we gained from this program so far? Progress? Dignity? Power? Peace? Nothing except trouble," said a 44-year-old Tehran resident.
Iran's refusal to abandon its nuclear activities has resulted in resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council in 2010, as well as additional unilateral sanctions approved by the U.S. Congress and the foreign ministers of all EU countries, which were primarily directed against the banking, financial and energy sectors of Iran.
Restrictions imposed by the EU include the ban on the sale of equipment, technologies and services to Iran's energy sector which is a major source of revenue for the Iranian regime; the same measure refers to the refining industry. New investments in Iran's energy sector have also been also prohibited as a whole.