Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Iran threatens to sever ties with IAEA if sanctions imposed

01/ 07/ 2008

TEHRAN (RIA Novosti) - Iran's parliament issued a statement on Tuesday saying the country could cease to cooperate with the United Nations nuclear watchdog if new sanctions are imposed over Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Iran is currently under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions for defying demands to halt uranium enrichment, which it says it needs purely for electricity generation despite Western suspicions that the program is geared toward weapons production.

The statement signed by 201 of 209 lawmakers urged the European Union to pursue the diplomatic route rather than impose sanctions, saying that pressure will only prompt Tehran to speed up its nuclear program.

The six countries trying to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program - the five permanent UN Security council members plus Germany - "should know that if a new UN Security Council resolution on sanctions is passed, this will achieve no results, but will provoke the passing by those elected by the Iranian people of new decisions to defend the nation's rights, such as ceasing to comply with the Additional Protocol to international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on guarantees with the IAEA," the declaration said.

The EU agreed on June 23 to impose new sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program, banning Iran's Bank Melli, from operating in Europe. The measures, which will stop the operations of the bank at its offices in London, Hamburg and Paris, were approved during a meeting of EU agriculture and fisheries ministers in Luxembourg.

The Iranian lawmakers' declaration called on the so-called Iran Six to use the opportunity to negotiate.

"At present there is a good opportunity for negotiations with the six countries, as long as they don't breach our 'red line'. The countries must use this opportunity to settle current problems."

Iran has repeatedly called its right to uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes a 'red line' from which it will not back down.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, has been investigating Iran's nuclear activity for more than five years, but has been unable to determine whether its nuclear program has military ramifications.
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