NEWS: Iran’s internal divisions widen

Former Iran negotiator charged with spying for UK

Iran’s former chief nuclear negotiator, Hossein Mousavian, has been charged with passing classified information to the British embassy, the Iranian intelligence minister has revealed.

The decision to make the charges public could be a further sign that the radical Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is consolidating his hold over the country’s nuclear policy. A deepening split has become apparent within the normally secretive leadership, which is facing increased international pressure to halt its uranium enrichment programme.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, remains in charge of nuclear policy but Mr Ahmadinejad appears to be increasingly influential.

The Foreign Office had no comment yesterday on the comments by the intelligence minister, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, who told the official news agency that Mr Mousavian’s crime “from the viewpoint of the Intelligence Ministry is obvious and provable”. [complete article]

Gloves come off as Iran moderates battle Ahmadinejad

Iran’s moderates are intensifying criticism of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, landing their first blows in a bitter political fight ahead of elections next year.

The moderate heavyweights Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani have been unusually explicit in their criticism of Ahmadinejad’s economic policies and his analysis of the threat posed by the United States.

Ahmadinejad has shot back using language colourful even by his standards, warning he would expose “traitors” in the nuclear standoff and accusing critics of “being less intelligent than a goat”.

The sharp rhetoric is the upshot of concerns over the mounting international crisis over the Iranian nuclear programme and a sign of the proximity of legislative elections on March 14. [complete article]

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