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Last Updated: Friday, 24 October, 2003, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Iranians protest at nuclear deal

By Jim Muir
BBC Tehran correspondent

There has been a demonstration by hardliners in Teheran to protest against Iran's decision to sign a protocol allowing tougher inspections of its nuclear facilities, and to suspend attempts to enrich uranium.

Iran hardliners
Hardliners protest against Iran's nuclear pledge
Friday prayers in Tehran is a traditional rallying point for hardliners and regime loyalists.

They often take their cue from the main speaker, but not on this occasion.

In his sermon, the influential former president Hashemi Rafsanjani made no reference at all to the signing of the protocol.

Support of the regime

Mr Rafsanjani and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were, by all accounts, involved in the nuclear decisions.

The decisions had the support of all the regime's main pillars.

Rafsanjani did not mention the signing of the protocol
But that did not prevent around 1,000 hardliners marching through the streets after Friday prayers.

They also held a brief rally to denounce the step.

The hardliners chanted slogans saying the additional protocol should never be signed.

They said that Iran should scrap its commitment to the non-proliferation treaty altogether.

Some of the demonstrators said Iran should go ahead and develop nuclear weapons in order to protect its independence.

The supreme leader and other clerics have ruled that all weapons of mass destruction are un-Islamic.

So far, vocal opposition to Iran's nuclear compliance has been confined to an extreme right wing fringe.

Many other conservatives, however, had strong reservations over the affair.

But they have so far bowed to a decision the regime felt obliged to take in the national interest.

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