Iran Announces Partial Suspension Of Cooperation With U.N. Nuclear Watchdog


Saturday, March 24th 2007, 11:07 pm
By: News On 6


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Iran announced Sunday that it was partially suspending cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, citing the ``illegal and bullying'' U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on the country for its refusal to stop enriching uranium.

Gholam Hossein Elham, a government spokesman, told state television that the suspension would ``continue until Iran's nuclear case is referred back to the IAEA from the U.N Security Council.''

In New York, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said ``a few select countries don't have the right to abuse the Security Council.''

``The Security Council has to be aware of its own position and status. Actions that are illegal, unwarranted and unjustified will reduce the credibility of the Security Council,'' he said in Persian through a translator.

He said Iran has repeatedly sought negotiations with the powers that drafted the resolution against the Islamic republic: the five permanent council members _ the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China _ and Germany. But he accused those countries of lacking the political will to reach a breakthrough.

``If this political will existed, the other side wouldn't have imposed preconditions on the talks,'' Mottaki said, referring to demands by the U.S. and its allies that Iran first halt enrichment before they engage in negotiations on its nuclear program.

He said the world has two options to proceed on the nuclear issue: continued negotiations or confrontation.

``Choosing the path of confrontation ... will have its own consequences,'' he said without elaborating.

Elham said the Iranian Cabinet decided Sunday to suspend ``code 1-3 of minor arrangements of the safeguards'' with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The provision members to inform the IAEA of any new steps and decisions made concerning a country's nuclear program.

The Security Council sanctions, which send a strong message that Iran's defiance will leave it increasingly isolated and warn of even harsher penalties ahead, were immediately rejected by Iran, which said it had no intention of suspending its enrichment program.

The country claims it needs the uranium enrichment for electricity generating purposes while the United States and its allies fear the program is used for nuclear arms making.

Elham, the government spokesman, said that until now Iran's cooperation with the IAEA went beyond its requirements as a signatory to the international Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In the past Iran has kept ``promptly informing'' the IAEA under the organization's safeguards about its nuclear plans, Elham said, while treaty requires a country to give six-month advance notice. In 2002, Iran began voluntarily implementing the IAEA safeguards.

Iran's measure is a response to ``Saturday night's illegal and bullying resolution by the Security Council,'' Elham said.

The government was acting fully within Iranian law in deciding to revise its cooperation with the IAEA.

Officials with the U.N. agency were not answering cell phones Sunday evening on calls seeking comment on the Iranian decision.

The new, moderately tougher sanctions include banning Iranian arms exports, and freezing the assets of 28 people and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs. About a third of those are linked to the Revolutionary Guard, an elite military corps that answers to the leadership in Tehran.

They also ask countries to restrict travel by the individuals subject to sanctions, as well as arms sales to Iran and new financial assistance or loans to the Iranian government.

The measure also said all sanctions would be suspended if Iran halts enrichment and made clear that the country can still accept a package of economic incentives and political rewards offered last year if it complies.