Iran MPs want reduced ties with UN atomic watchdog

Last Updated: Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 17:36

Tehran: Iranian lawmakers on Sunday demanded the government of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reduce ties with the UN atomic watchdog after it censured Tehran for building a new nuclear plant.

Condemning a resolution issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday as "political and lacking consensus," MPs also demanded that Tehran continue its controversial nuclear programme "without any halt."

State television said 226 lawmakers in the 290-member conservative-dominated parliament signed a declaration demanding the government draw up "a quick plan to reduce the level of cooperation with the IAEA and submit it" to the house.

The lawmakers condemned the IAEA and its resolution.

"We consider the behaviour of the IAEA to be that of double standards and political. We want it to give up this double standard which has tarnished its reputation," the MPs said in the sternly-worded declaration.

"The Iranian nation without a doubt knows that legally its nuclear file has no flaws and wants as soon as possible the case to be returned to the IAEA from the UN Security Council," they said.

Lawmakers also accused US President Barack Obama of failing to make the "slightest change" in policy towards Iran and following "the same path of the previous neo-conservative administration" of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

The Obama administration has advocated a policy of dialogue with Tehran but has also not ruled out new sanctions against the Islamic republic.

The IAEA`s resolution saw China and Russia, which have close links with Tehran, joining forces with Britain, France, Germany and the United States in condemning Iran for building the new plant near the Shiite holy city of Qom.

Twenty-five nations on the 35-member IAEA board voted for the censure, which refers the case to the Security Council and was the first against Iran since February 2006. Only Venezuela, Malaysia and Cuba voted against.

Western powers have long suspected that Iran, despite its fierce denials, is trying to build a nuclear bomb. But in the past they have struggled to win over diplomatic backing from China and Russia.

Iran`s disclosure of the Qom plant on September 21 further angered world powers who object to Tehran`s uranium enrichment work, the most controversial part of its nuclear programme.

Enriched uranium can be used to power nuclear reactors, but in highly purified form it can make the fissile core of an atom bomb.

World powers are also irked at Tehran for refusing a high-profile nuclear fuel deal brokered by the IAEA.

The deal envisages shipping abroad Iran`s low-enriched uranium (LEU), which the West fears could be diverted for making atomic weapons, for converting into fuel required for a medical research reactor in Tehran.

Iran insists it is ready to send out its LEU only if there is a simultaneous exchange of the fuel inside the country.

The harsh stance of Iranian lawmakers came after parliament speaker Ali Larijani warned Iran could "seriously decrease" cooperation with the IAEA.

Larijani told parliament that Washington and other major powers in the P5-plus-1 group, which are in talks with Tehran over its nuclear programme, must change their approach towards Iran.

"The Iranian parliament warns the US and other members of the five-plus-one group not to think that such kind of outdated games will give you a chance for haggling," said Larijani, who was previously Iran`s chief nuclear negotiator.

"Do not make the parliament and the Iranian nation choose another path and seriously decrease cooperation with the IAEA."

Larijani, who has repeatedly accused the West of trying to "trick" Iran in negotiations over the IAEA-drafted fuel deal, repeated the charge in his address to parliament.

World powers "should have welcomed Iran`s early announcement of the Fordo plant and not used it as a pretext to issue a resolution," he said.

Bureau Report

The deal envisages shipping out Iran`s low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for converting into fuel required for a reactor in Tehran.

Iran insists it is ready to send out its LEU only if there is a simultaneous exchange of the fuel inside the country. Larijani said Iran has now become "alert" following the IAEA resolution.

"We will carefully monitor your further actions and if you do not give up this ridiculous policy of carrot-and-stick, then we will come up with a new approach towards you," he said directing his fury at Washington which has advocated a policy of dialogue with Tehran but has also not ruled out new sanctions against the Islamic republic.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 17:36

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