Sunday, August 13, 2006

Iran insists on nuclear policy change if pressured

Iran said on Sunday Western threats and pressure would not resolve a dispute over its atomic programme but could push Tehran to review its nuclear policy.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi did not say what policy would be reviewed but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has previously said Iran might reconsider membership of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend sensitive atomic work by August 31 or face the threat of sanctions. The West says it is being used to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge.

"If they (the West) do not change their path, Iran will act proportionally," Asefi told a weekly news conference. READ MORE

"Iran will not yield to the language of threat and pressure. If they continue to pressure us, we will review our policy."

Iran insists it wants to enrich uranium to make fuel for power stations not for producing material to make bombs.

Iranian parliament speaker Gholamali Haddadadel said on Sunday Iran might follow North Korea out of the NPT in response to the U.N. resolution. Parliamentarians have previously threatened to present a bill calling for Iran to quit the treaty.

"There is no reason to be a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) if Iran felt unfairly treated," the official IRNA news agency quoted Haddadadel as saying.

The United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia proposed two months ago to give Iran trade and technical concessions if it shelves its enrichment programme. Iran gave itself until August 22 to reply. Western powers said this was too long and hauled Iran before the Security Council.

Iranian officials often say sanctions would hurt the West more than Tehran by lifting already high oil prices to levels that would be unmanageable for industrialised economies.

"It is better for the West to resolve Iran's nuclear issue with prudence and through talks," Asefi said.