TEHRAN, Jan. 18 — Iran’s outspoken president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appears to be under pressure from the highest authorities in Iran to end his involvement in its nuclear program, a sign that his political capital is declining as his country comes under increasing international pressure. Just one month after the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran to curb its nuclear program, two hard-line newspapers, including one owned by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on the president to stay out of all matters nuclear. In the hazy world of Iranian politics, such a public rebuke was seen as a sign that the supreme leader — who has final say on all matters of state — might no longer support the president as the public face of defiance to the West.
In another sign of pressure on the president to distance himself from the nuclear issue, a second newspaper, run by an aide to the country’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, also pressed Mr. Ahmadinejad to end his involvement in the nuclear program. Mr. Larijani also ran for president and was selected for his post by the supreme leader.
“They want to minimize the consequences of sanctions now that they have been imposed,” said Mohammad Atrianfar, an executive at the daily Shargh, which was closed last fall, and a reformist politician. “But they don’t have clear strategy, and they are taking one step at a time.”
That pressure has continued, and the criticism now seems to have gained more credibility in the face of the sanctions and Iran’s troubled economic standing. The United States increased pressure on Iran over its role in Iraq has also raised concerns in Tehran and may be behind efforts to restrain the president, political analysts in Tehran said. “The resolution has decreased Iran’s political credibility in the international community, and so other countries cannot defend Iran,” said Ahmad Shirzad, a reformist politician and a former legislator.
About 50 legislators signed a letter this week calling on the president to appear before Parliament to answer questions about the nuclear program. They need at least 22 more signatures. In another letter, 150 lawmakers criticized the president for his economic policies, which have led to a surge in inflation, and for his failure to submit his annual budget on time. The Iranian stock market, which was already in a slump, continued to decline — falling more rapidly in the past month — as buyers stayed away from the market. The daily Kargozaran reported last week that the number of traders had decreased by 46 percent since the Security Council resolution was passed.
Kargozaran reported that a group of powerful businessmen, the Islamic Coalition Party, met with Mohammad Nahavandian, a senior official at the Supreme National Security Council, and called for moderation in the country’s nuclear policies to prevent further damage to the economy. In the past year, several major European banks have severed their business ties with Iran. Economists say the banks’ actions will also lead to an increase in inflation because importers must turn to complicated ways to finance purchases.
Einmal mehr macht dies deutlich, daß Ahmadinedschads Macht im Westen allzu oft über- und die Vernunft des iranischen Volkes unterschätzt wird.