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(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran's former President Mohammad Khatami on Saturday warned that sanctions on his country because of its nuclear program would hit the West as hard by pushing oil prices higher.
Khatami, who is here to attend an international conference on Islam and the West, said the international community should have focused on creating a nuclear-free Middle East rather than targeting Iran.
There is widespread concern in the West that Iran's civilian nuclear program is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Last Saturday, the International Atomic Energy Agency decided to report Iran to the UN Security Council, saying it lacked confidence in Tehran's nuclear intentions and accusing Iran of violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Khatami said "Iran neither has nuclear weapons nor is developing weapons. Thus the pressure on Iran to relinquish its nuclear technology is unfair and unjust."
Khatami noted that a number of countries in Middle East and Asia have nuclear weapons.
"Israel has at least 200 nuclear war heads. It would have been very good if the international community especially Europe and the IAEA focused on creating a nuclear free region in the Middle East instead of focusing on their efforts on Iran."
He said any proposed sanctions on Iran will also create difficulties for the entire world including the West.
"Oil price now is 70 dollars a barrel. The first effect on sanctions against Iran is that this high price will go even higher ... and the impact on the industrialized world will be very serious. I hope all sides of the issue will act prudently," he said.
Khatami, a reformist who was president from 1997 until June last year, said he is optimistic that the US will not attack Iran because of opposition to war in that country after its Iraqi occupation.
"It will be more detrimental for the people who take this imprudent action against Iran."
"We hope that through negotiations and compromise we can solve our issue."