Iranian Media Slams Domestic Critics of Nuclear Program for “Repeating the Enemy’s Goals”

Iran’s media blasted participants in a conference at Tehran University for speaking in “one voice with Israel” and “repeating the enemy’s goals.”

The conference,which was held at Tehran University, included rare domestic criticism of Iran’s nuclear program. Some speakers criticized the nuclear program, its costs to Iranians and the lack of public debate about the nuclear issue, Payvand news portal reported.

Speaking at the event, Professor Sadegh Zibakalam said that the damage caused by the nuclear program was greater than that of the 1980-88 war with Iraq, which left tens of thousands dead and led to a massive devastation. He added:

“The imposed war (with Iraq) did not damage us as much as the nuclear program has.”

Zibakalam was sentenced to 18 months in prison earlier this year for questioning Iran’s nuclear program. Last month his sentence was reduced to a fine.

Former reformist lawmaker Ahmad Shirzad who also took part at the event said nothing had come out of the nuclear program, “not even a glass of water.” The ISNA news agency (Persian link) quoted him as saying:

“If you ask me why we are moving on the nuclear path, I must tell you I have no idea. This is exactly like the continuation of the war (with Iraq) after the liberation of Khorramshahr.”

Shirzad also implied that Iran would be better off without a civil nuclear program, saying that the Islamic Republic doesn’t have the primary resources and knowledge for a nuclear program and it will be better if the country will focus on sectors such as petro chemistry and natural gas.

Shirzad said the nuclear issue has turned into a matter of “honor”:

“When something becomes a matter of honor, discussing it is not possible anymore. And that has been our problem for the past eleven years.”

Former diplomat Professor Davud Hermidas Bahvand said that it is the duty of President Hassan Rouhani, to the people and history, to resolve the nuclear issue in a peaceful and constructive way.

Criticism of the nuclear issue has been a red line in Iran, where media face tough censorship rules in their news coverage. As expected, in the last few days criticism of the panelists at the conference was swift and harsh.

“One voice with Israel” was the top headline of hard-line Vatan Emrooz, which featured a picture of the panelists, suggesting that they are adopting Israel’s positions in their opposition to Iran’s nuclear program, Al-Monitor reported. The article slammed Rouhani and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif for not condemning the panelists’ comments.

Kayhan, a pro-regime newspaper, published several articles about the conference. In one editorial, the newspaper claimed that just as the nuclear negotiations are reaching a sensitive stage:

“And the enemy does not hide its desire to completely suspend Iran’s nuclear program, some inside the country are exactly repeating the enemy’s goals.”

[Photo: V / Flickr]