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Keep up nuclear pressure on Iran: Israel minister


Israel's intelligence minister said on Sunday world powers must keep up economic and pressure on Iran to rein in its nuclear programme, despite the election of moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani as president.

"The working assumption should be that (supreme leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei, who has been heading this (programme) for 24 years, will continue to head it and therefore without continued pressure on Iran there is no chance of seeing significant change in nuclear policy," Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio.

Steinitz said that although Rowhani, 64, won support from reformers he came from the heart of the country's conservative clerical establishment.

"Rowhani doesn't consider himself a reformer, he defines himself as a conservative. He was... Khamenei's representative to the National Security Council," he said.

Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear power, along with the West accuses Iran of using its atomic energy programme as a cover for developing an atomic bomb. Tehran vehemently denies those claims.

It also charges Tehran with aiding Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement and the Palestinian militant Hamas, both bitter enemies of the Jewish state.

"Maybe it's good news for the Iranian people (who displayed) a real wish for reforms which could perhaps have an effect in the long term," added Steinitz.