Prague, 20 Apr. (RFE/RL) Iran's largest pro-reform student group, the Office To Consolidate Unity (OCU or Daftare Tahkime Vahdat), has expressed concern over Iran's political behavior in the crisis over its nuclear program and is calling for "a temporary suspension of all nuclear activities." The student group says in its statement that the tough line of Iranian officials in its nuclear dealings has put the country and the Iranian nation “in a dangerous position”.
Last week's announcement by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad that Iran has successfully enriched uranium has been met with mixed reactions among Iranian students.
Iran's announce of enriching uranium created a range of feelings of pride and enthusiasm to skepticism and concern.
They range from feelings of pride and enthusiasm to skepticism and concern.
"When it comes to the nuclear issue which is tied to Iran's national interests, then Iran's main reformist student group will continue to have a critical view in order to try to prevent a situation that could become [even more] critical".
Following the announcement on 11 April, several conservative and the pro-revolutionary Basiji student groups issued statements describing the move as a “great breakthrough”.
On April 16, students at one of Tehran's prominent science and engineering universities distributed pieces of a big yellow cake -- symbolic of uranium yellowcake -- as a way to celebrate the achievement by Iranian scientists.
Others, however, including members of the OCU, Iran's largest reformist student group, are questioning the wisdom of Iran's latest nuclear move.
The OCU's central committee says in a statement that the Iranian establishment is insisting on "the honor of having achieved the nuclear fuel cycle and the continuation of nuclear activities" at a time when the country is at one of its most critical periods.
The group warns that Tehran's latest nuclear step could “aggravate” the sensitivities of the international community over its nuclear program and threaten Iran's national interests.
In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Mr. Saber Sheykhlou, the spokesman of the OCU's central committee says, "The irrational and confrontational behavior of those who are in power has put the country and the nation on the threshold of a war or devastating sanctions; the referral of Iran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council was the result of Iran's biggest foreign-policy mistake".
Other members of the group who did not endorse the statement also remain critical of Iran's policies regarding the nuclear crisis.
Amir Pakzad, the spokesman of the OCU's Roshangari faction also believes that Iran's tough line has put the country “in a difficult position”.
"When it comes to the nuclear issue which is tied to Iran's national interests, then Iran's main reformist student group will continue to have a critical view in order to try to prevent a situation that could become [even more] critical", he said, adding: "We believe that by getting angry and stepping out of the framework of moderation we hand the initiative to the opponent".
Pakzad thinks Iran should cooperate with "international organizations" over its nuclear program and seek a diplomatic solution to the current crisis.
In the absence of civil society activists, a free press and political parties, and in conditionsof heavy censorship prevails, the government makes decisions without consulting the people.
In its statement, the OCU called on Iranian officials to immediately suspend all nuclear activities and to take steps to build trust in the international community
Sheykhlou says Iran should improve its human-rights record. "We believe that the use of nuclear technology for national progress and development is the indisputable right of the Iranian nation but, besides it, there are other rights, like human rights, which have a higher priority", he said. "While the country is facing serious problems -- including a lack of democracy, human rights violations, the country's economy moving toward a crisis situation, and the society suffering from poverty -- the spending of billions of dollars for nuclear purposes is contrary to Iran's national interests".
Concerning the nuclear issue, the DTV wrote in its statement that, "in the absence of civil society activists, a free press and political parties", and in a situation where heavy censorship prevails, the government makes decisions without consulting the people.
The statement comes at a time when Iranian officials have ruled out any retreat on the nuclear issue and said that Iran is committed to pursue its nuclear activities.
President Ahmadi Nezhad warned in a recent speech that that “any aggressor would regret attacking the Islamic Republic.
Recent U.S. press reports suggest that Washington is making plans for a strike against some of Iran's nuclear facilities”.
The United States, which accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons, has said it wants the nuclear standoff to be solved diplomatically, but U.S. President George W. Bush has not ruled out military action.
But Tehran says and repeats that its nuclear program is peaceful. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 20406
(Radio Farda broadcaster Shirin Famili contributed to this report.)
Editor’s note: The above article was broadcast by the Prague-based Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty on 18 April 2006.
Highlights and some editing are by IPS