Reuters: Iran’s parliament voted on Sunday to oblige the government to develop a nuclear fuel cycle, an action opposed by Washington which fears Iran could be seeking atomic weapons. Reuters
TEHRAN – Iran’s parliament voted on Sunday to oblige the government to develop a nuclear fuel cycle, an action opposed by Washington which fears Iran could be seeking atomic weapons.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is obliged to take action to obtain peaceful nuclear technology including provision of the fuel cycle for generating 20,000 megawatts of electricity,” said the lawmakers’ motion, which was approved by 188 out of 205 lawmakers present in a debate broadcast live on state radio.
The vote ratchets up the pressure on Iran’s 11th-hour talks with France, Germany and Britain. The EU trio won a suspension of Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle last year to clear the way for talks that aim to assuage fears on Iran’s atomic ambitions.
But Iranian officials have been increasingly frustrated with the sluggish pace of talks and have threatened to go back to developing parts of the fuel cycle.
London, Berlin and Paris have said that such a resumption would force them to back Washington’s plan to haul Tehran before the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
“The Europeans are trying to turn the suspension into a permanent cessation which is what we, the parliament, are rejecting outright today,” lawmaker Kazem Jalali said.
Iranian officials have said there are a few more days left for talks before they decide whether to resume the fuel cycle.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters on Sunday there was no choice but to do what parliament had decided.
“The government is obliged to do whatever parliament says,” he said.
Iran says its nuclear fuel is needed only for power stations, not for weapons.
Iran sees the fuel cycle as an issue of national sovereignty, insisting it has every right to enrich the uranium ore it mines in its central deserts.
But the Europeans have demanded a guarantee of Iran’s goodwill, saying only by dropping its domestic fuel production and importing the nuclear fuel needed for power stations can it prove its peaceful intentions.