Sunday, February 12, 2006

IAEA 'Winds Down Iran Monitoring'

CNN News:
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have stripped most surveillance cameras and agency seals from Iranian nuclear sites and equipment as demanded by Tehran in response to its referral to the U.N. Security Council, according to diplomats in Europe quoted by The Associated Press.

The diplomats, who demanded anonymity, said the move was part of retaliatory measures announced by Iran that have left the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency with only the most basic means to monitor Iran's nuclear activities, according to AP.

The development comes as Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to revise his country's acceptance of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). READ MORE

On Saturday, addressing a large rally in Tehran, Ahmadinejad repeated that it was Iran's right to develop nuclear energy, and threatened to "revise" its NPT acceptance if Western countries attempted to interfere with that right.

The president spoke four days after the U.N. Security Council formally received notification about Iran and its nuclear program from the IAEA, opening the door toward potential sanctions.

The crisis has mounted since the Islamic republic last month removed U.N. seals from its equipment and said it was beginning nuclear research for peaceful purposes.

Western nations successfully pushed for Iran to be reported to the Security Council for failing to convince the world its atomic scientists were working on exclusively on power stations, and not on bombs.

After the IAEA vote Iran ended its cooperation with the agency and said it would commence enrichment activities and halt snap inspections while still leaving open the possibility of further discussion.

"So far, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been after nuclear research based on the NPT and within the rules of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), but if you want to violate the Iranians' right with the same regulations, you should know that the Iranians would revise their policies," Ahmadinejad told tens of thousands of cheering Iranians assembled in a square in Tehran to celebrate the 27th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

The crowd voiced its approval of Ahmadinejad's remarks with chants of "Nuclear technology is our inalienable right," Reuters reported.

The president said Iran was not going to make a sudden withdrawal from the NPT, as North Korea did, according to the news agency.

"We would still like to be patient, so do not try to wear down our patience," Reuters reported him as saying.

The president reiterated his claim that the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed during World War II, was a hoax, and said Zionists were behind the "insulting" publication in some European newspapers of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Some Muslims consider such depictions blasphemous.

Ahmadinejad aimed his most withering criticism regarding the cartoons at the Israelis: "I have said previously that, to a number of bullying European governments and to the great Satan, it is acceptable to insult the prophet, but it is not acceptable to question the legitimacy of the regime which has occupied Palestine and has usurped lands and blackmailed all Western governments and committed crimes and killed women and children and destroyed houses."

He added: "If you are looking for the Holocaust, the true Holocaust, you should look in Palestine," where "occupiers kill helpless people every day."

Or, he said, a Holocaust can also be found in Iraq.

But Ahmadinejad focused most of his remarks on the nuclear issue. Atomic energy was critical in the fields of science, agriculture and medicine, he said. "Having nuclear energy is essential for our country's progress," he said.

Ahmadinejad said his country's vast fossil fuel reserves "will come to an end soon" and that the nation is pursuing nuclear research for peaceful purposes only.

But "they have clearly told our nation that they don't want the Iranian nation to have the technology for nuclear energy and nuclear fuel," he said.

He said the real reason the issue was referred to the Security Council is because "they want to monopolize this precious energy so that, when other nations need it, they would give it to us at a high price and then give it to us drop by drop and impose political things on us."

About the Russian proposal to enrich uranium on Russian soil and then send it to Iran, Ahmadinejad was skeptical.

"There are not guarantees that you are going to stand by your commitments," he said, referring to the Russians.

But Iranians have their own ways of gaining an edge, he added. "Allah is our master. He helps us and he's not going to help you."