Friday, February 03, 2006

Rafsanjani Says UN Referral Would be 'Black Page in History'

Gareth Smyth in Tehran, The Financial Times:
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former president and a towering figure in Iran’s 27-year Islamic Republic, made a last-minute appeal to the board of the IAEA not to refer Iran to the UN security council over its nuclear programme. Mr Rafsanjani told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran that such a vote – which is expected in Vienna on Friday afternoon – would be “a black page in history. He warned the consequences might be “the reverse” of what Europe and the US were seeking.

I know this nation, its history and the region - and I advise them not to make such a mistake,” he said. READ MORE

Mr Rafsanjani, who was defeated in June’s presidential election by the fundamentalist Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, has previously called for Iran to exercise “wisdom” over the nuclear issue. Some of his allies have expressed the fear that the crisis is strengthening radicals in Tehran.

In an editorial in Kayhan, the leading conservative newspaper, editor-in-chief Hossein Shariatmadari argued on Thursday that Iran should leave the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT), as it had not been allowed its “rights” under the treaty to a civilian nuclear programme.

Iran’s leadership, however, continues to say that even if referred to the security council, it will remain within the NPT and continue the level of co-operation required with the IAEA under the treaty.

But Ali Larijani, Iran’s top security official, has written to Mohamed ElBaredei, the IAEA secretary-general, saying that involving the security council would be “the last blow to Iran’s confidence” and would lead Iran “to restrict severely” IAEA supervision of its nuclear programme and resume “all peaceful nuclear activities… without any limitations”.

Iranian officials have made it clear in recent weeks that it would respond to referral by ending its acceptance of the Additional Protocol of the NPT, which allows intrusive IAEA inspections, and by resuming plans for enriching uranium.

Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said in Vienna that Russia was making a “big diplomatic mistake” by lining up with the European Union in supporting referral.