President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced a new round of sharp criticism at home Monday after he said Iran's nuclear program is an unstoppable train without brakes. Reformers and conservatives said such tough talk only inflames the West as it considers further sanctions.
The criticism came even as new signs have arisen that Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is growing discontented with Ahmadinejad, whom he is believed to have supported in 2005 presidential elections.
Last week, Khamenei voiced rare criticism of the domestic performance of Ahmadinejad's government, and the president was notably absent when a group of cabinet members and vice-presidents met with Khamenei, who has the final word in all political affairs in Iran, including the nuclear issue.
The increasing criticism reflects public worries about the course of the country's confrontation with the United States and the West. Washington has taken a more aggressive stance toward Iran, building up the U.S. military presence in the Gulf and accusing Tehran of backing militants in Iraq. That has hiked fears among Iranians of possible U.S. military action.