Bloomberg News

Iran Former Minister Seeks Referendum on Nuclear Program

July 12, 2012

A former Iranian interior minister and opposition figure is calling for a national referendum on Iran’s atomic work, saying the government must act wisely to exit a “dead end,” Jaras reported.

“The ill effects and pressure that Iran is bearing has passed the limits,” Abdollah Nouri was quoted as saying in a report published on the opposition website yesterday. “To exit this dead end, the regime must make a rational decision that preserves national interests.”

Nouri’s remarks follow the July 1 start of a European Union ban on oil from Iran, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia. The measures build on existing U.S.-led sanctions on trade and banking designed to force Iran to curb its nuclear work, which the U.S and the EU say has military aims.

Iran says its program is civilian and maintains that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is entitled to carry out atomic work on its territory.

“Having peaceful nuclear energy is our undeniable right based on international laws,” Nouri, who’s also a cleric, was quoted as telling a group of student activists gathered at his house in Tehran. “Yet we shouldn’t downplay difficulties in people’s lives and let one issue, however important, put all our national interests at risk.”

Iranians must be informed about the pros and cons of pushing forward with the nuclear program so the population can make the final decision on the current conflict between Iran and the West, Nouri said, according to the report. Nouri, who served as interior minister in the 1990s, stepped down after criticizing the Islamic establishment.

While the Persian Gulf nation’s officials have admitted the sanctions are affecting the economy and pressuring the population, they have urged Iranians to face the “economic war” against their country and keep their “head high.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said yesterday that Iran is “vaccinated” against Western sanctions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew J. Barden in Dubai at barden@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Fraher at jfraher@bloomberg.net


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