Friday, May 04, 2007

Chill Factor

Hossein Mousavian, a member of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team until 2005 and political ally of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was arrested on April 30, 2007 and is being interrogated at Evin prison. Fars News Agency said Mr. Mousavian could be faced with espionage charges. According to an unidentified official speaking to the Fars News Agency, "Mousavian was arrested because of connections and exchange of information with foreign elements."

Mohammad Atrianfar, a prominent journalist close to Mr. Mousavian, told the Financial Times that "The unconfirmed charge is financial scandal, but there is strong speculation in political circles that it was somehow related to the nuclear issue."

The arrest will no doubt have a chilling factor on those involved in Track II negotiations, which is particularly problematic given how important such efforts are while there remains a lack of direct talks between the US and Iran.

According to the Financial Times:
"Iran has recently showed nervousness about prominent Iranians spending time abroad, and Mr. Mousavian has travelled regularly since losing in 2005 his post as chair of the foreign policy committee of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC)."

Since the 2005 election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Mousavian has been a prominent critic of Iran's subsequent diplomacy over the country's nuclear program.

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