Middle East crisis dividing Iran regime

July 25, 2006 at 8:19 AM
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TEHRAN, July 25 (UPI) -- Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West are likely to become harder as the Hezbollah-Israeli fighting in Lebanon continues, Time magazine says.

The cease-fire delay is igniting divisions between pragmatists and conservatives in the Tehran government, the magazine says, adding the conflict is viewed as exacerbating the West's image of Tehran as a regional troublemaker.

Some Western diplomats say Hezbollah, the Lebanese guerrilla group battling Israel, triggered the crisis on Tehran's orders to divert world attention from Iran's controversial nuclear plans, Time says.

But rather than helpfully distract attention from Iran, the conflict "undermines Iran's position," the magazine quotes a university professor close to senior Iranian officials as saying.

The rift is complicating Iran's response to a U.S.-backed proposal for Iran to stop uranium enrichment, officials say.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have joined with Germany to offer a package of incentives to Iran that would include help with peaceful nuclear development in exchange for Iran's stopping uranium enrichment. Iran has said it would respond to the package on Aug. 22.

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