Iranian clergy deplores Clinton remarks on tough sanctions

 Iranian clergy deplores Clinton remarks on tough sanctions Tehran  - A senior Iranian clergy member on Friday deplored recent remarks by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on preparing renewed tough sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programmes.

"What kind of talk is that and where is the difference to the policy adopted against Iran during the (former US president George W) Bush era?" ex-president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said at the Friday prayer ceremony.

Clinton on Wednesday told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the US was pursuing a dual-track strategy of both holding talks and preparing very tough sanctions if Tehran rejected Western proposals.

Unlike the Bush administration, US President Barack Obama wants to show goodwill and resume dialogue with Iran while taking an active part in future nuclear negotiations.

"What kind of goodwill is that and what is the use of negotiations if these negotiations were solely aimed at approving your (US) standpoint only?" said the moderate cleric who is head of the influential clergy body, the Experts Assembly.

Iran has accepted resuming talks with the six world powers, including the United States, but once again rejected the main demand by the so-called 5-1 group - the five permanent United Nations Security Council member states plus Germany - which is suspension of the controversial uranium enrichment process.

Enriched uranium is a basis for nuclear fuel, but if enriched to a higher degree, it can also be used to make nuclear weapons.

The talks, which ground to a halt last year, revolve around fears by the international community that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability. Iran maintains its programme is purely for producing energy.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had earlier said he had a new package for the 5+1 powers, including proposals which would guarantee peace, justice, respect and cooperation throughout the world. He gave no further details.

The Iranian package is expected to include not only issues related to Iran's nuclear programme but also the Middle East crisis, including condemnation of Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories, and therefore most likely will not lead to any breakthrough in the nuclear deadlock. (dpa)