Monday, November 21, 2005

Iran Parliament Votes to Close Atomic Sites to U.N. Monitors

The New York Times:

November 21, 2005


TEHRAN, Nov. 20 - The Iranian Parliament on Sunday approved the outline of a bill that would bar United Nations inspectors from its nuclear sites if the agency referred Iran's case to the Security Council for possible punitive measures.

The board of governors of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to review Iran's case when it meets Thursday. The atomic agency passed a resolution in September and called on Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment-related activities before the meeting.

The bill needs the approval of the Guardian Council, which has final say over all government actions, to become law. But the approval on Sunday, by 183 of the 197 lawmakers present, suggests that Parliament backs the government's tougher stance on its nuclear program.

"By approving this bill, we are sending a message to the atomic agency," said Aladdin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's Commission for Foreign Policy and National Security, urging the agency not to act against Iran.

"Otherwise, we require the government to suspend all its voluntary measures," he said, according to the ISNA student news agency. Mr. Boroujerdi was referring to Iran allowing inspection of its nuclear sites.

Iran defied an agreement with Britain, France and Germany in August and resumed activities at a nuclear site near Isfahan.

It further complicated diplomacy last week after it fed a new batch of uranium into the plant. The work includes converting mined uranium, or yellowcake, into a gas known as uranium tetrafluoride, or UF4, a step before enrichment. In his report on Friday, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran's "transparency and indispensable" cooperation but urged it to suspend enrichment-related activities and to allow inspectors to visit Lavizan-Shian, a military site near Tehran.

The United States accused Iran last year of dismantling buildings at Lavizan-Shian and removing topsoil from the area to hide experiments related to nuclear weapons.

Iran said the razed construction was not related to military or nuclear work.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Assefi, said Sunday that Iran would allow the inspectors to visit that site only if they could provide "concrete proof" of activity related to weapons. "They cannot just say we want to talk to this or that person and keep dragging out the case," he said. "They should tell us their aims, and these aims should be towards closing the case."

He brushed off references in the report to blueprints of nuclear designs, saying they were "baseless" and "media speculation."

The report said Iran had turned over a document - which it had never used - that said that in 1987 it obtained blueprints of nuclear information from a network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic program.


Post a Comment

<< Home