Mon, May 08, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Tehran threatens to withdraw from nuclear treaty

CONFRONTATIONAL Iran's parliament issued the warning as Tehran's Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the nation's sponsoring a draft resolution had political motivations

AP , TEHRAN

The Iranian parliament threatened in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday to force the government to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) if the US continued pressuring Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment.

"It's clear that should the UN secretary-general and other members of the UN Security Council fail in their crucial responsibility to resolve differences peacefully, there will be no option for the parliament but to ask the government to withdraw its signature for the Additional Protocol [to the NPT that allows intrusive, snap inspections] and review Article 10 of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [that outlines the means for signers of the agreement to withdraw]," according to the letter by the lawmakers that was read on state-run radio yesterday.

Iran has already stopped snap inspections by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors compliance with the treaty.

Article 10 of the NPT allows signatories to pull out of the treaty if they decide that extraordinary events have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. A withdrawing nation must give fellow treaty signers and the UN three months notices and detail the events that have forced the decision to pullout of the agreement.

North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003 on that basis. Iran signed the Additional Protocol to the NPT in December 2003 that calls for it to open its nuclear facilities to unfettered and unannounced inspections.

Iran started to implement the protocol voluntarily in 2003 but stopped allowing intrusive inspections in January after Iran was referred to the UN Security Council.

While Iran signed the protocol it says that Iranian law requires further steps before it can be legally binding, including ratification by both parliament and the Guardian's Council, a powerful oversight body dominated by Islamic hard-liners.

Also yesterday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi declared yet again there was nothing the international community could do to prompt Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, declaring that "intervention by the Security Council in this issue is completely illegal."

Briefing reporters, also said Iran's antagonists over its nuclear program were driven by "political motivations."

"Countries sponsoring the draft resolution [Britain, France and the US] have political motivations," Asefi said. "It's clear that any action by the UN Security Council will leave a negative impact on our cooperation with the IAEA."

"Intervention by the UN Security Council would change the path of cooperation to confrontation. We recommend they do not do this," Asefi said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, was quoted by state radio as reissuing his charge that Iran's opponents were bullying the international community and Iran.

"International organizations should not turn into interpreters of [a] few bullying powers ... If that's the case, then there was no need for world nations to pay costs for keeping these organizations and [a] few interpreters would suffice to inform others of [this] bullying behavior," Ahmadinejad said.

"These organizations must defend countries seeking peaceful nuclear technology and disarm countries possessing weapons of mass destruction," he said.

The US, Britain and France have expressed concern Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons under cover of its enrichment program and are trying to craft a UN resolution that would involve some measure of punishment should Iran fail to cease processing uranium.

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