TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian security forces intensified their crackdown on anti-government supporters Tuesday, arresting relatives of the country's Nobel laureate and the main opposition leader, and limiting the movement of another top opposition leader.
Iran also accused the U.S. and Britain of fomenting the recent violence, threatening to "slap" Britain in the face as it summoned the British ambassador to an urgent meeting. Clashes on Sunday left at least eight people dead in a confrontation that has become increasingly bitter and violent.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shrugged off Sunday's protests as "a play ordered by Zionists and Americans" and criticized Barack Obama and Britain for allegedly supporting the protesters.
"The Iranian nation has witnessed this sort of play many times," Ahmadinejad said, according to the state IRNA news agency.
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Government supporters held rallies in at least three cities on Tuesday, many protesting against the opposition and its leaders.
Opposition Web sites reported about 10 new arrests, and those taken into custody included the sister of Shirin Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights efforts in Iran.
The new arrests, along with the tough criticism of the U.S. and Britain, added to rising tensions with the West, which is threatening to impose tough new sanctions over Iran's suspect nuclear program and has criticized the violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.
Also Tuesday, Iran was close to clinching a deal to clandestinely import 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan, according to an intelligence report obtained by the Associated Press. Diplomats said the assessment was heightening international concern about Tehran's nuclear activities.
Such a deal would be significant because, according to an independent research group, Tehran appears to be running out of the material, which it needs to feed its uranium enrichment program.