Iran Says IAEA Inspections Could End
Nasser Karimi, The Guardian UK:
Iran could stop U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities, its top envoy said Friday, as tens of thousands of Iranians rallied in support of their country's nuclear program.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told state-run TV that Iran would be entitled to put an end to unfettered inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency unless it changes its resolution on Iran at a November meeting. READ MORE
Last month, the U.N. agency passed a resolution warning Iran it would be referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions unless it allayed fears about its nuclear program.
``Definitely it would be the right of Iran to discontinue confidence-building measures, including (unfettered inspections), if the resolution is not amended at the next meeting of the IAEA,'' Mottaki said after visiting Gulf states Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to drum up support for Iran's nuclear standoff with the West.
The United States accuses Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons - a charge Iran denies. The IAEA has called on Iran to cease its uranium enrichment activities until such accusations have been conclusively refuted.
The IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, who along with his organization won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, said he spoke about Iran with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Iran's nuclear program.
Describing his phone conversation with Rice, who called to congratulate him, ElBaradei said that they both ``agreed that we will have to continue to work together'' on issues including dispelling suspicions about Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Iranians heeded government calls and held rallies across the country to back Iran's nuclear activities after attending Friday prayer services.
Demonstrators poured out of mosques in downtown Tehran chanting: ``Nuclear suspension is not possible anymore'' and ``Death to America.''
``The demonstrations have two messages; first that Iranian people know that their enemies thwart Iran of advancing and the second that Iran has to resist pressures,'' state-run TV said in a commentary.
Uranium enrichment does not violate the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory. But key IAEA members, including the U.S. and European nations, want Iran to permanently scrap enrichment plans as a confidence-building measure, something Tehran says it is not prepared to do.
Talks between Britain, Germany and France - which negotiated on behalf of the 25-nation European Union - and Iran collapsed in early August after Iran resumed uranium reprocessing activities at its Uranium Conversion Facility in Isfahan, in central Iran. Tehran had suspended uranium conversion work under a November 2004 deal with the European troika.