AFP: Top deputies in Iran’s conservative-controlled parliament have threatened to limit UN inspectors’ access to nuclear sites if the country comes under too much pressure, press reports said Tuesday. AFP
TEHRAN – Top deputies in Iran’s conservative-controlled parliament have threatened to limit UN inspectors’ access to nuclear sites if the country comes under too much pressure, press reports said Tuesday.
Foreign policy commission spokesman Kazem Jalali said deputies concluded at an emergency meeting that they could force the hardline government to revoke its commitment to an additional protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The protocol, already signed by the government but not yet ratified by parliament, gives the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) extra powers to probe nuclear facilities.
Quoted in the national press, Jalali said that if the West “wishes to deprive Iran of its rights by using political pressure, a suitable decision will be taken such as a halt to inspections or a halt in the application of the additional protocol.
“If the additional protocol is used to exploit Iran rather than build confidence, its application should be stopped,” he said, but nevertheless said Iran wanted to see nuclear negotiations continue.
Iran says its nuclear programme is a peaceful effort to generate electricity — something it insists it has a right to do as a signatory of the NPT.
But its past record of hiding its activities, suspicious research work and black market procurements have aroused widespread fears this energy drive is merely a cover for secretly developing nuclear weapons.
Iran had agreed to suspend uranium enrichment-related work as part of a deal struck with Britain, France and Germany in November last year. Uranium enrichment can make rector fuel but the process can be diverted to military purposes.
The EU-3 have been trying to convince Iran to abandon enrichment work altogether in exchange for a package of trade and technology incentives. But angered by the proposal, Iran last month resumed uranium conversion — a precursor to enrichment.
On Friday, IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei issued a tough report on Iran’s failure to meet demands for cessation of all nuclear fuel activities.
With the country refusing to return to a freeze, the issue could be taken to the UN Security Council — a move that would represent a serious diplomatic blow to Iran.
Iran’s new hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has pledged new proposals to resolve the row, and Iran seems determined to widen he negotiations beyond the EU-3 to include members of the Non-Aligned Movement — such as South Africa and Malaysia who are more sympathetic to the Iranian position.