Iran's Rafsanjani chides Ahmadinejad over sanctions

Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:53am GMT

* Former president says Iran faces unprecedented pressure

* Says government response to sanctions inadequate

* Says splits within ruling elite damaging to Iran

TEHRAN, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Veteran Iranian politician Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani criticised President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday for failing to counter the impact of sanctions -- the latest sign of division within Iran's ruling elite.

Rafsanjani, head of a powerful clerical body, said the Islamic Republic was under unprecedented global pressure and said the government was wrong to dismiss the sanctions as no threat to the economy.

"Gentlemen, you should be vigilant and careful. Do not downplay the sanctions ... people should not be tricked," Rafsanjani told the Assembly of Experts, a body that can dismiss or appoint Iran's Supreme Leader but which has not exerted that power so far.

Without naming the president -- who has called the sanctions "pathetic" and no more effective than a "used handkerchief" -- Rafsanjani was aiming his comments at Ahmadinejad to whom the cleric lost in a 2005 presidential election.

"Iran has such a big capacity that it is able to overcome (the sanctions), but I am doubtful that these capacities are being utilised in a proper way," he said in his opening address to the two-day meeting of the assembly.   Continued...

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