Thursday, July 13, 2006

Iran Threatens to Quit Nuclear Treaty

Stefan Smith, Yahoo News:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that Tehran could halt UN inspections and quit the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if subjected to increased pressure over its disputed nuclear programme.

The threat came the day after world powers referred the crisis back to the Security Council -- which could impose sanctions -- over a failure by the Islamic republic to respond to demands it suspend work that could lead to the production of nuclear weapons.

"Up to now the Iranian people have acted within the framework of the NPT and the IAEA," the president asserted in reference to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency.

"But if they reach the conclusion that Western countries do not have goodwill and sincerity... they (the Iranian people) will revise their policy," he said in comments carried by the website of Iranian state television. READ MORE

Iran says it only wants to enrich uranium to make reactor fuel, and rejects accusations that it wants to acquire the capacity to make weapons.

But on Wednesday the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany decided they had lost patience with Iran.

"The Iranians have given no indication at all that they are ready to engage seriously on the substance of our proposals," French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said in a statement agreed with his colleagues from the United States, Britain, Germany, Russia and China.

Iran had been offered trade, diplomatic and technology incentives as well as multilateral talks -- involving the United States -- if it agreed to a suspension.

"We express profound disappointment over this situation. We have no choice but to return to the United Nations Security Council," Douste-Blazy said.

The US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, said he hoped the Security Council would be able to take action "early next week" on a draft resolution that would make a halt to Iran's uranium enrichment mandatory.

"China has agreed, Russia has agreed" on the steps to be taken, a senior US official also said, but added the specific sanctions had not yet been decided.

But Ahmadinejad told the world powers to "be patient and not disturb the current climate", arguing that Iran was still looking into the offer.

"We will try to conduct a positive examination (of the offer) and will give our reply at the end of Mordad," the Iranian month that ends on August 22, he was quoted as saying.

"We want to solve the problem calmly," he asserted, rejecting Western accusations that Iran's hardline leadership was merely trying to buy time and exploit international divisions.

But the president also repeated that "we will not renounce our absolute right to use peaceful nuclear technology" -- in yet another signal the country was unwilling to freeze enrichment.

Iran resumed enrichment in January, and has already ignored a non-binding Security Council demand for the work to stop pending the result of a three-year-old and still inconclusive IAEA investigation.

Iranian leaders have already moved to limit IAEA inspections, and have in the past threatened to follow the path of North Korea by abandoning the NPT -- the cornerstone of the global effort against the spread of nuclear weapons.