Sunday, November 29, 2009

Larijani Warns of Less Cooperation With IAEA

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Agence France Presse (AFP)

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani warned on Sunday that Iran could "seriously decrease" cooperation with the UN atomic watchdog after it demanded that Tehran halt work on a second nuclear plant. The conservative-dominated parliament was poised later the same day to condemn the resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an Iranian lawmaker said. 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 "The Iranian parliament warns the US and other members of the five-plus-one group not to think that such kind of outdated games will give you a chance for haggling," said Larijani, who was previously Iran's chief nuclear negotiator.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." The IAEA on Friday demanded that Iran halt construction of a new uranium enrichment facility near the Shiite holy city of Qom, known as Fordo, and urged increased cooperation from Tehran on nuclear issues. Larijani, who has repeatedly accused the West of trying to "trick" Iran in negotiations over an IAEA-drafted nuclear fuel deal, repeated the charge in his address to parliament. "This negotiation shows that they (world powers) are not seeking a dialogue, but are seeking to commit a political swindle because (they) should have welcomed Iran's early announcement of the Fordo plant and not used it as a pretext to issue a resolution," he said.

Iran's disclosure of the plant to the IAEA on September 21 triggered widespread outrage in the West while the UN watchdog said Tehran was on the "wrong side of the law" by not declaring its existence earlier. Iran insists it has broken no IAEA regulations in the timing of the disclosure, as no nuclear material had yet been introduced into the facility. But Tehran has also irked world powers by rejecting a nuclear fuel deal brokered by the IAEA. The deal envisages shipping out Iran's low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad 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. 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. The parliament speaker's anger was directed at Washington, which has advocated a policy of dialogue with Tehran but has also not ruled out new sanctions against the Islamic republic. An influential MP and member of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, Hosseini Ebrahimi, also raised doubt on the future of Tehran-IAEA ties. "The Americans, the French and the British are carrying out deeds that do not have a political basis," he said. Another Iranian lawmaker, Fatimeh Alia, said parliament was to issue a declaration later on Sunday condemning the IAEA resolution, and she called for a revision of ties with countries which had voted against Tehran. (Read more...)