Monday, November 21, 2005

Iran must meet nuclear obligations - Straw

Britain insisted on Monday that Iran meets obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty after Iranian lawmakers voted to block snap U.N. checks of nuclear sites if it is referred to the Security Council.

"We'll be considering what the Iranian parliament said yesterday," Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told reporters as he arrived for a European Union foreign ministers' meeting. READ MORE

"Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It's got clear obligations. It was declared non-compliant with its obligations because of its failure to meet various undertakings in the safeguards agreement," he added.

Iran has signed but not ratified the so-called Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty which provides extra safeguards such as snap inspections.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the vote was "not good news" but stressed there was still time to consider Iran's case before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets in Vienna on Thursday to decide possible further action.

Britain, France and Germany have led EU negotiations with Iran aimed at winning assurances that it does not seek to build an atomic bomb. Tehran broke off the talks in August.

Iran now faces referral to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions after failing to convince the world that its programme, concealed for almost two decades, is intended to build power stations rather than warheads.

In Sunday's vote, 183 of 197 lawmakers present backed the bill, calling also for a resumption of uranium enrichment, which Iran agreed to suspend voluntarily last year during talks with the Europeans on a long-term co-operation agreement.
The legislation must be approved by Iran's constitutional watchdog, the conservative 12-man Guardian Council.