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Iran's Former President Says Sanctions Are No 'Joke'

Iran's former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is urging the country's leadership not to dismiss international sanctions against Tehran as a "joke."

Iran's ILNA news agency quotes the cleric as saying Iran has experienced a war and military threats over the past three decades, but has never been the object of such "global arrogance."

Mr. Rafsanjani spoke Tuesday at a session of Iran's Assembly of Experts, a powerful body he leads that supervises the work of the country's Supreme Leader. He said government officials should take the sanctions seriously, not ridicule them.

The former president said the international sanctions are "a calculated assault" on Iran, but that the nation has the capacity to overcome them.

The U.N. Security Council imposed a fourth set of sanctions on Iran in June for its refusal to stop enriching uranium, and the United States, European Union and other countries have imposed additional punitive measures.

Iran's current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has dismissed the U.N. sanctions, comparing them to a "used handkerchief" that should be discarded.

Separately, Iran's nuclear chief says the International Atomic Energy Agency's credibility has been damaged by remarks its director made criticizing Tehran for rejecting two U.N. inspectors.

Ali Akbar Salehi said Tuesday that comments by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano were dangerous and a big mistake.

Amano had chided Iran on Monday for barring two experienced nuclear inspectors from entering the country. The IAEA's director-general said repeated Iranian objections are hampering the inspection process and preventing verification of Iran's claim that all its nuclear activities have peaceful purposes.

Iran says it banned the two inspectors because they filed "false reports" about Iran's nuclear program.

Amano said Monday he has full confidence in the inspectors' impartiality.

The United States and its allies suspect Iran is using its nuclear program to develop weapons - a charge Iran denies.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.