Iran Candidate Vows to Preserve Nuclear Rights Through Diplomacy

A U.S.-educated engineer running in Iran’s June presidential race said his government should go on a diplomatic offensive to convince the world its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

Mohammad Reza Aref suggested President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had mishandled the nuclear issue by letting it get “political.”

“Everyone knows that we aim to use advanced technologies toward our progress,” said Aref, who was a vice president under former President Mohammad Khatami a decade ago. “We need to create a rallying force in the world behind Iran.” He spoke in a live interview aired on Iranian state television late yesterday.

Iran has been diplomatically isolated and punished economically by world powers trying to pressure it to modify a nuclear program they suspect is a cover to build bombs. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

Aref, 61, holds a doctorate from Stanford University, where he studied electrical engineering and statistics, according to Iranian Diplomacy, a website run by former Iranian diplomats. He is one of eight candidates vying to succeed Ahmadinejad in the June 14 race.

Like Khatami, he advocates greater personal and press freedoms and seeks to ease Iran’s international isolation.

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