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Teheran warns West of harsh response

West move to refer nuclear programme


  • The world should give Iran a chance to reach a political understanding
  • The U.S. and Europe should recognise Iran's right to enrich uranium now rather than later

    TEHERAN: Iran on Tuesday warned that it would resume uranium enrichment and reconsider unfettered inspections of its nuclear facilities if it is referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme.

    However, its top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani offered Europe a new round of talks, saying the world should give Iran's new Government a chance to reach a political understanding.

    Mr. Larijani also said the U.S. and Europe should learn lessons from the North Korean nuclear issue and recognise Iran's right to enrich uranium now rather than later.

    ``If they want to speak with Iran with the language of force, Iran will have no choice, in order to preserve its technological achievements, to get out of the framework of the NPT and the additional protocol and resume [uranium] enrichment,'' he told a news conference.

    The additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allows unfettered inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities if it is referred to the U.N. Security Council.

    Western diplomats in Vienna said that a U.S.-backed European Union resolution calling for referral could be introduced at the current session of the International Atomic Energy Agency's board meeting, but any vote could be postponed to a later meeting of the 35-nation IAEA board.

    Mr. Larijani also warned that Iran would react harshly if IAEA passed any resolution setting a deadline for Iran over its nuclear activities.

    Deadline

    ``If they set a deadline, it will, from Iran's point of view, make no difference from being referred to the U.N. Security Council and Iran will react in the same manner,'' he said.

    Mr. Larijani said nuclear technology had turned into a matter of national pride in Iran and the Iranian Government would not compromise over its right to enrich uranium.

    Britain, Germany and France, negotiating on behalf of the 25-nation European Union, have begun drafting the language of a resolution demanding Iran be referred to the Security Council. But Europeans face opposition from other members of the IAEA Board of Governors, which opened a meeting on Monday to discuss Iran's nuclear programme.

    Mr. Larijani also urged the European troika to get back to the negotiating table.

    ``We are telling the three European countries that we are ready for talks but within the framework of the NPT. ... It's a good opportunity for them to play a good role,'' he said.

    Mr. Larijani called up the example of North Korea, saying the U.S. had been forced to recognise it's right to enrich uranium after years of dialogue.

    Korean nuclear issue can give the United States and Europeans lessons to learn. What was the result of so many pressures on North Korea?'' he asked.

    ``Finally, they had to recognize North Korea's right to enrich uranium. ... They should recognize Iran's right now,'' he said.

    The IAEA has been trying to determine if gaps in Iranian reporting on more than 18 years of clandestine nuclear activity are attempts to cover up military involvement in what Iran insists is a purely civilian program to generate power.

    Establishing such involvement would bolster arguments by the United States and its allies that Iran's program is a cover for making nuclear arms. — AP

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