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Iran Ex-President Accuses US Of Upping Tension, Impacting Economy January 26, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.
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TEHRAN (AP)–Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani accused Friday the U.S. of stepping up its confrontation with Iran on several fronts and seeking to undermine his country’s economy.

The comments by Rafsanjani, a powerful figure in Iran’s clerical leadership, came as the U.S. has vowed to take greater action to roll back Iranian influence across the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Lebanon.

In a Friday prayer sermon at a Tehran mosque, Rafsanjani told worshippers: “Today our enemies have come with several issues against us while having supporters in the world communities. This is bullying.”

He said the ultimate aim is to force Iran to “abandon nuclear energy” and “ignore our legal right” to a nuclear program. Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful and has come under U.N. sanctions for refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

The U.S. is increasing its military presence in the Gulf sending a second aircraft carrier to the region and deploying Patriot missiles, in a move that has alarmed Iranian leaders.

He said the U.S. military buildup aimed to make Iran worry about a possible U.S. attack. “This is an ominous plan to frighten our nation and affect life of our nation; to weaken investment, to weaken production, to make people to hide their wealth,” said Rafsanjani while urging authorities to pay more attention to people.

The cleric said Iran should counter the U.S. campaign with “a psychological war in their home.” He didn’t elaborate.

U.S. President George W. Bush blasted Iran in his State of the Union address Tuesday, accusing it of backing “Shiite extremists” in Iraq and the Shiite Hezbollah group in Lebanon, as well as of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

The White House said Friday that Bush has authorized U.S. forces in Iraq to take whatever actions are necessary to counter Iranian agents deemed a threat to U.S. troops or the public at large – a sign of a more assertive policy to push back on Iran on that front.

Rafsanjani, who was president from 1989-1997, is head of Iran’s Expediency Council, a powerful clerical body, and a top rival to hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Seen as a relative moderate, Rafsanjani lost to Ahmadinejad in 2005 elections but his supporters scored a major victory over Ahmadinejad’s in city elections late last year.

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