New York Times: The hard-line Iranian Parliament unanimously approved a bill on Sunday supporting the resumption of uranium enrichment. The vote comes as talks with European countries over Iran’s nuclear activities have so far failed to produce an agreement.
The measure was supported by all 247 lawmakers who were present
in the 290-member body, with some chanting “Death to America” and “God is great.” The session was carried live on the national radio. New York Times
By NAZILA FATHI
TEHRAN, Oct. 31 – The hard-line Iranian Parliament unanimously approved a bill on Sunday supporting the resumption of uranium enrichment. The vote comes as talks with European countries over Iran’s nuclear activities have so far failed to produce an agreement.
The measure was supported by all 247 lawmakers who were present in the 290-member body, with some chanting “Death to America” and “God is great.” The session was carried live on the national radio.
The bill requires the government “to make use of scientists and the country’s facilities” to “enable the country to master peaceful nuclear technology, including the nuclear fuel cycle,” ISNA, a news agency, reported.
Iran contends that its nuclear program is entirely for peaceful purposes. The United States contends that it could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ monitoring agency, has called on Iran to give up its enrichment program before Nov. 25 or its case will be sent to the Security Council, where Iran could face the imposition of penalties.
Germany, Britain and France have taken the lead in trying to negotiate with Iran to persuade it to suspend its nuclear activities.
No agreements have been reached so far between Iran and the three European countries. Iran has rejected the offer to give up its fuel cycle in return for aid for its nuclear technology and imports of fuel.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Assefi, sounded more conciliatory on Sunday, saying there has been progress in the talks with the European negotiators. A week ago, he described their proposal as unbalanced.
“Offering Iran a supply of fuel is a positive step, which we welcome, but this must not deprive Iran of its right to nuclear technology for peaceful reasons,” he said.
The bill passed Sunday must be approved by the Guardian Council, a group also dominated by hard-line leaders, before it becomes law. But the bill does not set a date for the government to resume uranium enrichment.
The speaker of the Parliament, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, said the vote was a message to the world.
“The message of the absolute vote for the Iranian nation is that Parliament supports national interests,” he said. “And the message for the outside world is that Parliament will not give in to coercion.”
The leader of the Parliament’s commission for national security and foreign policy, Aladdin Boroujerdi, said that sanctions had been in place against Iran for 25 years, and that Iran was not convinced that the Europeans would fulfill any commitments they made in the talks.
Nevertheless, talks with the Europeans are to resume on Friday in Paris. Mr. Assefi said Sunday that Iran was expecting a schedule from the Europeans to show how they would carry out their commitments.
“We expect that in the course of this meeting the Europeans will specify their precise commitments, concrete and clear, and the Islamic Republic will make the best decision in line with its own interests,” he added.
Political analysts in Tehran said Parliament’s action on Sunday was largely symbolic.
“What they did was merely political, to strengthen the position of Iranian negotiators ahead of the Paris meeting,” said Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst and journalist in Tehran. “The country’s supreme leader is the sole decision maker over nuclear activities and the Parliament or government have no power in this regard. Parliament wanted to send a message that this is our real stance even if the negotiators reach a compromise.”