Friday, March 31, 2006

Rafsanjani says world mishandling Iran atomic file

Iran's influential former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said on Friday that putting the U.N. Security Council in charge of the Iranian nuclear file risked harming Iran, the region and the West.

The council, which can impose sanctions, has called on Iran to halt enrichment of uranium in its nuclear programme, which the West believes is being used to develop atomic bombs.

Iran, which says its nuclear aims are peaceful, has rejected the demand. It says it wants its file to stay with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"It is not possible to wrongly accuse such a nation (Iran) ... and then send its dossier to the Security Council and drag the region step by step towards a critical situation," Rafsanjani said in a Friday prayers sermon.

"If they (the West) continue the current trend on Iran's nuclear case, everybody will be harmed. Iran is not the only country that will be harmed," he said. READ MORE

"Iran, the region, the Westerners, and the international organisations will be harmed. It will dent the credibility of the international organisations," he added.

Rafsanjani heads Iran's Expediency Council, which arbitrates between parliament and a constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei told Reuters on Friday that it was up to Iran to ensure a diplomatic resolution of its nuclear standoff with the West.

Rafsanjani said Iran's nuclear dossier had ended up in the Security Council because of "the enmity and unfair attitude of the arrogant powers in the world", an apparent reference to the United States and its European allies.