Saturday, December 03, 2005

Iran snubs IAEA, refuses to discuss missile deal

Bangkok Post:
Iran's senate-like Guardian Council on Saturday confirmed a parliamentary bill calling for the government's conditional suspension of nuclear cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Iran also said yesterday it sees no need to give any explanations over its $1-billion-dollar missile deal with Russia, state news agency IRNA reported. Ali Larijani, secretary of the National Security Council, said Iran purchased 29 Tor-M1 missiles and other military hardware. READ MORE

Moscow said the missiles were only for defensive purposes. The Tor is classified as a defensive system that can intercept cruise missiles and guided bombs and be used for protecting the nuclear power plant in south Iran, which is a joint project with Russia.

The Iranian parliament approved last month a bill urging the government to conditionally suspend all voluntary obligations, including the IAEA additional protocol and hence limit or even stop IAEA inspection of Iranian nuclear sites if the Iran case was referred to the United Nations Security Council.

The Guardian Council, which checks parliamentary bills for their compatibility with Islamic laws and the constitution, reconfirmed the bill and made it a law.

The bill is unclear whether Iran would also start the uranium enrichment process if the Security Council referral became serious.

The new law is considered by observers to be as merely a warning and not necessarily binding if future developments force the Iranian government to consider other alternatives.

The main question at the current phase is whether nuclear negotiations between Iran and the European Union trio of Britain, France and Germany would be resumed.

Another major issue is whether Iran would accept a plan to convert its uranium in Iran, but enrich it in Russia. Enrichment on Russian soil could bring a breakthrough in the stalemate and is also backed by the E.U. and the United States.