Iran ex-atom official "gave information" to UK

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TEHRAN, Nov 14 (Reuters) Iran's intelligence minister accused a former nuclear negotiator today of supplying information to Britain in violation of the Islamic Republic's security interests, an Iranian news agency reported.

Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei spoke two days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced as ''traitors'' Iranian politicians who want the country to suspend its nuclear work and threatened to ''expose'' them.

Some senior clerics and leading moderates, including former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, have criticised Ahmadinejad's hardline nuclear policy, blaming him for Tehran's growing international isolation over its atomic ambitions.

The United States and some of its European allies suspect Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and are pushing for tougher UN sanctions against it. Iran says its programme is aimed at making electricity so it can export more oil and gas.

Former nuclear nagotiator Hossein Mousavian, seen as a moderate conservative with ties to Rafsanjani's political camp, was detained for ''security reasons'' in May but was freed a week later on bail.

He has not yet been charged.

''He (Mousavian) has given information to foreigners, including the British embassy, in contradiction to the country's interests and security,'' the ISNA news agency quoted Mohseni-Ejei as saying.

''You say that if the judge didn't charge him, Mousavian is not guilty, but I say that from the viewpoint of the Intelligence Ministry he is guilty,'' he said.

Britain's embassy in Tehran was not available for comment and there was no immediate reaction from Mousavian.

Ahmadinejad, who has consistently ruled out backing down in the nuclear row with the West, in a speech on Monday also accused his reformist rivals of pressuring a judge to acquit a spying suspect, in a clear reference to Mousavian.

''Of course behind Mousavian there are influential people who want him to be acquitted,'' Mohseni-Ejei said. ''Those who want to have him acquitted have contacted the judge a few times.'' The United States has refused to rule out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails in persuading Tehran to suspend its most sensitive nuclear activities.

Iran's leading reformist parties and leaders have warned of an escalating crisis with the international community, calling for a review of nuclear policy.

Rafsanjani, head of a powerful body with the authority to appoint or dismiss Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, this week voiced concern about a possible US military attack. But Ahmadinejad has dismissed any such threat.

Mousavian and other members of Iran's nuclear negotiating team with the European Union were replaced by more hardline officials when Ahmadinejad took office in 2005.

REUTERS PY BD2125

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