Financial Times: The diplomatic poker game over Iran’s nuclear programme is intensifying, with warnings by the Islamic Republic that it would take tough measures in response to any attempt by the US to block its development through the United Nations Security Council. Financial Times
By Gareth Smyth in Tehran and Guy Dinmore in Washington
The diplomatic poker game over Iran’s nuclear programme is intensifying, with warnings by the Islamic Republic that it would take tough measures in response to any attempt by the US to block its development through the United Nations Security Council.
In interviews in Tehran and New York, Iranian officials reacted defiantly to statements by the Bush administration that it would press the International Atomic Energy Agency next month to refer the issue to the Security Council. The US move is widely seen as a first step towards possible sanctions against what the US suspects is a covert weapons programme.
You don’t expect a country like Iran to be pushed around and take it sitting down, said Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s UN ambassador, who said it was an issue of national dignity. What is important is that our integrity is not to be bargained or up for sale. We react very strongly when we see people trying to undermine our national integrity. In Tehran, Hossein Musavian, foreign policy chairman of the Supreme National Security Council, said Iran had rejected a request from France, Germany and Britain at recent talks in Paris to relinquish control of uranium enrichment as a confidence building measure. The European proposal, which envisages the international supply of enriched uranium to Iran and the later removal of spent fuel, was intended to head off confrontation at the IAEA meeting in Vienna on September 13.
Mr Musavian said talks with the so-called EU-3 would continue and he considered it very unlikely that they would support a referral to the UN Security Council. But US officials said European patience with Iran had run out and that Washington had their backing.
Mr Zarif said Iran could not be expected to co-operate unilaterally. If the IAEA took Iran to the UN Security Council then not ratifying the additional protocol to the non-proliferation treaty may be the first in a series of steps in response.
Iran committed itself to the additional protocol last year in talks with the EU-3, thereby agreeing to inspections by the IAEA nuclear watchdog of any facility at any time. The ambassador said Iran would not follow North Korea and pull out of the treaty. He reiterated that the Iranian leadership had no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons or even the option to make them. But, he added, while Iran would continue to explore all ways to address international concerns it maintained its right, under the NPT, to develop nuclear power under IAEA supervision.
A second Iranian official, who asked not to be named, told the Financial Times in Tehran the situation was on the verge of something drastic. He said Iranian security planners expected the IAEA would pass a critical resolution in September and that the US might even attack targets in Iran.
If there is more criticism in September, Iran will remove the [IAEA”> cameras [at nuclear sites”> and start injecting the gas [the final stage of uranium enrichment”>, he said. Iran notes the example of North Korea, a regime the US is negotiating with.
The official, a regime insider, said radicals were now thinking of stupid things against the US and even Europe. He recalled the days when Iran carried out assassinations in Europe and recalled that bombings in Madrid this year changed the course of a general election. Europe, he said, had long been aware that Iran sought nuclear weapons and had earlier supplied dual-use technology.