Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of Iran's Assembly of Experts, speaks during the opening ceremony of the assembly biannual meeting in Tehran, Iran on September 14,2010. UPI/Maryam Rahmanian | License Photo
TEHRAN, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The leadership in Tehran should address the pressure from international economic sanctions seriously, a former reformist president warned.
The U.N. Security Council in June approved of sanctions against Iran as punishment for its controversial nuclear program. South Korea and Japan followed suit after the United States and European Union moved independently to target Iran's energy sector in July.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brushed off the sanctions as ineffective as Iranian energy officials claim the country has become self-sufficient in gasoline.
But former reformist president and influential cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said the country wasn't taking the threat posed by sanctions seriously, The Washington Post reports.
"We have never been faced with so many sanctions," Rafsanjani told state media. "I would like to ask you and all the country's officials to take the sanctions seriously and not as a joke."
Ahmadinejad is under pressure from Iranian lawmakers for an August decision to appoint four special envoys to the Middle East, Caspian region, Asia and Afghanistan.
A letter signed by 122 members of the 290-seat parliament condemned the move as a violation of Iranian law. They said Ahmadinejad's decision was in direct opposition to the authority of Iran's supreme leader.