Sunday, March 12, 2006

Iran FM threatens to quit NPT

Yahoo News:

TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran could leave the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if its nuclear rights are not accounted for, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warns. "If we reach a point where the existing mechanisms do not provide for the right of the Iranian people, then the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran would be possibly revised and reconsidered," Mottaki told reporters in response to a question over whether Iran would consider leaving the NPT.

"At the moment we believe that there is a chance for differents sides to continue the negotiations," he added on the sidelines of an international conference on energy and security in Asia.

On Wednesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency sent an assessment report on Iran's program to the Security Council after a failed three-year-old probe to confirm the true nature of Iran's activities.

The standoff has escalated in recent months, with Tehran insisting it will not stop the sensitive enrichment activities that the West suspects are cover for developing an atomic bomb.

On Friday, the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council held another round of private talks on how to respond to Iran's nuclear defiance ahead of an expected meeting by the full 15-member council next week.

Iran's interior minister also has renewed threats to strike back at political actions against its nuclear activities.

"If they turn Iran's nuclear case into a political-security issue, we will definitely use everything (to respond) without ignoring and forgiving a single thing," Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

"If the issue of sanctions is brought up, we will face it with all possibilities and potentials. The burden of sanctions will be definitely heavier for the international community than for ours," the interior minister said without elaborating Saturday.

Tehran says that its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity and that it has the right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to conduct uranium enrichment. The Security Council has the authority to impose punitive measures such as sanctions, a measure Iran says it does not fear.

In mid-February, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards warned that Iran was ready to counter any US aggression with offensive action.

"We have worked on all defensive and offensive scenarios for any possible attacks," Revolutionary Guards chief General Yahya Rahim Safavi told state television. Iran's Assembly of Experts, an 86-member council of top clerics, also issued a statement earlier this month warning the country's opponents of a "heavy price" if tensions escalate further. And the head of Iran's delegation to the IAEA, Javad Vaidi, has threatened the United States with "harm and pain.

Washington's European allies have stressed that military action against Iran is not an option.


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