AFP: Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki lashed out at the UN atomic watchdog on Monday, saying it was implementing "law of the jungle", as Britain and Germany warned of new sanctions against Tehran. By Aresu Eqbali and Jay Deshmukh
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki lashed out at the UN atomic watchdog on Monday, saying it was implementing "law of the jungle", as Britain and Germany warned of new sanctions against Tehran.
A defiant Mottaki said Tehran will continue to enrich uranium, the most controversial aspect of its nuclear programme, a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government declared plans to build 10 new enrichment plants.
In a separate remark, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani questioned the importance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), raising concerns about how long Tehran would remain a member given its determination to pursue its nuclear programme in defiance of international censure.
Mottaki said Friday's resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was "illogical" and "destroys" the very foundation on which the nuclear body is based.
The resolution condemned Tehran for building a second uranium enrichment plant near the Shiite holy city of Qom, an act seen as defying the UN Security Council which has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran for enriching uranium at its first plant in the central city of Natanz.
"No one can bring any reasoning in face of such logic," Mottaki told a joint news conference along with visiting Russian Energy Minister Sergie Shmatko.
"This is an act of bullying. Today, we call it the law of the jungle. Such measures will destroy the very foundation of the UN Security Council and the IAEA."
Mottaki said enriching uranium was Iran's right as it has been a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty for close to four decades.
"We cannot accept discrimination in international relations. Either there are rights or such rights do not exist," he added.
"We are just attaining our inalienable rights."
Angered by the IAEA resolution, which saw close trade partners Russia and China also backing it, Ahmadinejad's government on Sunday declared Iran would build 10 new Natanz-size uranium enrichment plants.
"We had no intention of building so many sites … but apparently the West does not want to understand Iran's message of peace and the way they behaved persuaded the government to pass a decree to build 10 sites like Natanz," Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi told public radio.
Western powers led by Washington object to Tehran's enrichment programme as they fear the material which can be used to fuel reactors would be used by Iran to make atomic weapons.
The West, which was infuriated by Iran's disclosure of the Qom plant, also wants Tehran to agree to a IAEA-brokered deal which envisages sending its stocks of low-enriched uranium abroad in one go.
Iran has rejected the proposal, saying it would send its LEU away only if it gets enriched fuel for a Tehran reactor at the same time.
Britain and Germany warned on Monday that Tehran could face more sanctions if it kept defying world powers.
"The priority always is to get the talks to work," said Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman in London.
"We would then review at the right moment, and maybe it's towards the end of this year, whether we pursue the second route of a dual track policy which is obviously, you think about things like sanctions."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned that "if Iran rejects the hand that has reached out, it must expect heavier sanctions."
But Moscow which voted against Tehran at the IAEA on Friday, attempted to cool the tempers on Monday.
"…a constructive agreement between Tehran and five-plus-one is of high importance and we do not want the thing to escalate at all," said Shmatko.
"I think there is still good scope to continue negotiation."
Parliament speaker Larijani too said the crisis could be resolved through a diplomatic dialogue, softening his tone a day after he had himself blasted the IAEA.
"I still think there is a diplomatic opportunity and it is beneficial to them (world powers) to use this, so that Iran continues its work under the framework of the agency and international supervision," Larijani said, referring to the IAEA.
He however questioned the relevance of the NPT.
"I think they have completely made NPT useless," he said at a separate press conference on Monday.
"What is this NPT which has become a one-sided tool … to create a political atmosphere? We say that we want to carry out our activities under NPT and they must guarantee this… that NPT regulations be properly applied and that they do not do indulge in any political interference."