Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Iran to Suspend IAEA Ties if Sanctions Imposed

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said on Tuesday his country would suspend its relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) if sanctions were imposed, as advocated by the United States. Ali Larijani also said Iran would stop acting transparently over its nuclear programme if was attacked militarily.

Washington has refused to rule out military options if diplomacy fails to curb the Islamic Republic's atomic ambitions.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking to build nuclear bombs and has been seeking support for international sanctions if Tehran does not halt uranium enrichment, as demanded by the U.N. Security Council. Russia and China oppose such measures.

"How are you going to prevent our activities by imposing sanctions? If you impose sanctions, Iran will suspend its relations with the agency (IAEA)," Larijani told a conference on nuclear issues in Tehran.

"In case of military action against Iran, Iran cannot be expected to act transparently (in its atomic work)," he said. READ MORE

The Security Council has asked the IAEA to report on Friday on Iran's compliance with its demands that Tehran halt uranium enrichment and answer the agency's queries on its nuclear work.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog has said it cannot yet confirm Iran's assertion that its atomic activities are purely civilian. But it has found no hard proof of a military programme.

Asked about France's attitude towards any U.S. military action against Iran, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told France 2 television:

"For us, obviously, that is absolutely not on the agenda. France, more than ever, is attached to the Charter of the United Nations. We think that decisions like that ... should be taken together, multilaterally.

"It's the U.N. Security Council that should give its agreement and must politically support the IAEA."

(Additional reporting by Jon Boyle in Paris)