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Iran's presidential candidates back nuclear program


08:29, May 28, 2013

TEHRAN, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Iran's nuclear activities look set to continue after the presidential election as major hopeful candidates vowed to keep the controversial program and take measures to minimize the Western sanctions' impact.

According to semi-official Mehr news agency, candidate Ali- Akbar Velayati said Monday that he would settle the nuclear issue soon if he won the election, pledging to use his rich diplomatic experience as an ex-foreign minister (1981-1997).

"We can continue nuclear enrichment and protect Iran's nuclear rights, and at the same time we can expand our ties with the world and reduce the sanctions gradually," Velayati was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, candidate Mohammad-Reza Aref said Monday that the next government should adopt new policies to mitigate the "impact of the sanctions."

"The impact of sanctions on the country is a fact and we do not deny that, but, at the same time, we should make every effort to get the sanctions lifted," Aref was quoted as saying by the state IRIB TV.

Aref, who was the first vice president from 2001 to 2005 under former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, said he would do his best to lessen and nullify the impact of sanctions through constructive cooperation with the country's friends and improve Iran's foreign relations.

Activating and "developing foreign policy" would be instrumental in this regard, the candidate said, adding that Iran strategic and constant position has been to peacefully utilize the nuclear technology.

Meanwhile, he accused the West of making Iran's nuclear issue a "political dossier" and intending "to cause problems for the Islamic republic by prolonging the issue."

Also, another major candidate said that Iran can counter Western pressures against the country through a "resistance economy," Tehran Times daily reported Monday.

Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said that "The West is exerting pressure on the country through oil (embargo). If we manage to run a non-oil economy, a resistance economy will be shaped."

Jalili, also the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, added that the next president should spell out his platform on how to address economic issues, such as employment, inflation and the subsidy reform plan, according to the report.

Last week, Iran's Guardian Council of Constitution announced the names of eight eligible candidates for the presidential election slated for June 14.

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