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Ahmadinejad faces domestic criticism for tough line on Iran's nuclear program

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faces new domestic criticism from both reformists and conservatives after he called Iran's nuclear program a train that "has no brake and no reverse gear" in a speech Sunday.

The Guardian reports that "critics from across the Iranian political spectrum" have taken Mr. Ahmadinejad to task for his uncompromising speech on the development of Iran's nuclear program.

Mohammad Atrianfar, a respected political commentator, accused the president of using "the language of the bazaar" and said his comments had made it harder for Ali Larijani, the country's top nuclear negotiator, to reach a compromise with European diplomats. ...

"This rhetoric is not suitable for a president and has no place in diplomatic circles," said Mr Atrianfar, a confidant of Hashemi Rafsanjani, an influential regime insider and rival of Mr Ahmadinejad. "It is the language people in the bazaar and alleyways use to address the simplest issues of life."

The Guardian also cites Fayaz Zahed, leader of the pro-reform Islamic Iran Solidarity party, who criticized Ahmadinejad for choosing to imitate the leadership style of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, rather than that of more internationally respected leaders like South Africa's Nelson Mandela or the Czech Republic's Vaclav Havel.

"The brake exists to get the train safely to its destination," Mr Zahed wrote in the newspaper Etemad-e Melli. "Perhaps on the journey, we might find the track broken and are obliged to move our passengers by using the reverse gear to get to a safer track. Iran is a nation of earthquakes, flood and national disasters! You are our head. We should be able to trust you."

The UK-based Web portal IranMania reports that the conservative newspaper Resalat took issue with Ahmadinejad's tone as well, writing that "neither weakness nor unnecessarily offensive language is acceptable in foreign policy."

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