Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Iran maintains nuclear defiance with UN body

Gareth Smyth, Financial Times:
Iran on Monday threatened to end “voluntary and temporary” agreements over its nuclear programme unless the United Nations' nuclear watchdog amended a resolution condemning Tehran.

Iran continued defying Saturday's resolution of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that condemned its “non-compliance” with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

A statement by the Foreign Ministry in Tehran said unless the resolution a first step to referral to the UN Security Council was “revised”, Iran would end “voluntary and temporary” agreements over its nuclear programme, including an additional protocol allowing IAEA inspectors ready access to its atomic sites. READ MORE

The ministry made no specific reference to uranium enrichment, which Iran suspended two years ago to ease international suspicions its nuclear programme had a military purpose. Iranian officials last week threatened to resume enrichment if the IAEA resolution passed.

The resolution, drawn up by the European Union, called for Iran to “ratify and implement in full” the additional protocol and to allow IAEA access to individuals and documents concerned with the nuclear programme. But Monday night's statement said Iran would not change “principled positions” because of the “threat” of referral to the Security Council.

After the IAEA passed the resolution by 21 votes to one with 12 abstentions, Iranian officials said a measured response would come after consultations among the country's leadership.

It was unclear whether Monday night's statement came before such consultations.

While the statement called for continued negotiations, it gave no sign Iran was ready to accept the IAEA resolution as a means to avoid referral to the Security Council when the IAEA board meets again in November.

Iranian diplomats were taken aback when the EU secured a large majority for the resolution. Both China and Russia, to whom Iran looks for support, abstained and called on Tehran to continue talks with the IAEA and the EU.

In Tehran, sections of the conservative media and many parliamentary deputies are backing defiance, even to the point of leaving the NPT, but voices of caution are also being raised.