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A former minister in the Iranian regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini accused Germany on Saturday of failing to apply the necessary pressure on Tehran to halt its controversial nuclear program due to financial reasons.

"Germany prefers to safeguard its financial interests in Iran, and prefers its billion-dollar business deals rather than applying the necessary pressure to bring an end to the Iranian nuclear program," said Ayatollah Dr. Mehdi Haeri Khorshidi, who fled to Germany in 1986 and remained there until 2003, speaking at a conference on Iran at Haifa University.

Khorshidi served as the justice minister in Ayatollah Khomeini's first administration, as well as serving as the advisor on religious affairs.

The Iranian minister was arrested in 1981 after voicing criticism against the Ayatollah's regime, and remained in prison for five years until he fled to Germany. In 2003, he left Germany for the U.S., where he lives today.

According to Khorshidi, Germany has stepped up its commerce with Iran, in blatant disregard of its nuclear program, which the West believes aims to manufacture a nuclear bomb, and its history of human rights violations.

Khorshidi also lashed out at the European Union, which he said had failed to make full use of its power to stifle Iran's nuclear ambitions and prevent a devastating war in the region. "Iran is no less dependent on Europe than Europe is dependent on Iran," he said.

The former Iranian official's remarks elicited a heated response from the audience, which included Germany's ambassador to Israel Dr. Harland Kinderman, who was asked to take the podium for an impromptu defense of Germany's policies. He stressed that Germany has changed its attitude toward Iran in recent years.