- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2007

12:39 p.m.

TEHRAN — A former Iranian nuclear negotiator was arrested on an unspecified security charge, the state news agency reported today as the country’s hard-line president said Iran would not retreat “even an iota” from its pursuit of nuclear technology.

Citing an “unofficial informed source,” the Islamic Republic News Agency said Hossein Mousavian was arrested in Tehran on Monday. He was a member of the Iranian nuclear negotiator team until 2005 and also served as Iran’s ambassador to Germany in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Mr. Mousavian also was known as a close ally of former influential President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, defeated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2005 elections. Mr. Ahmadinejad replaced the complete Iranian negotiating team, including Mr. Mousavian, when he assumed power two years ago.

There was no official word on what the specific charge against Mr. Mousavian was. Usually such charges in Iran range from violating national interests, state security interests, to treason and carry up to life imprisonment. The cases are heard before Iran’s Revolutionary Courts.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran would resist attempts to curtail its rights in developing nuclear technology for peaceful, electricity-generating purposes and would “cut off hands of invaders” if it were attacked.

“Our nation will not give up its right even an iota,” the president told a crowd in Kerman, 650 miles southeast of the capital, Tehran. “In the important nuclear issue, implementation of justice is the demand of [the] Iranian nation. Our nation says, ‘Law for everyone, right for everyone.’”

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comment came ahead of another U.N. Security Council deadline for Iran — this one in late May — to halt its uranium enrichment program or face more punishment.

The council first imposed limited sanctions in December, then strengthened them because of Iran’s refusal to suspend enrichment and meet a first 60-day deadline for this.

The enrichment process can produce fuel for nuclear reactors or — if taken to a higher degree — the material for atomic bombs.

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