The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Iran ignores nuclear hawks

Tehran, Sept. 14 (Reuters): Iran will continue to co-operate with the UN’s nuclear watchdog, a senior official was quoted as saying today, despite hardliners’ calls for Iran to reject a UN deadline to prove it has no atomic arms programme.

Using softer language than in recent days, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali Salehi said Tehran would not make “nervous and tough reactions” to a tough IAEA resolution last week on Iran’s nuclear programme.

“We will continue our co-operation with the IAEA as before and our clear criticism does not mean we will sever our co-operation with the agency,” the state-run Iran newspaper quoted him as saying.

But he added that Iran should not show total “obedience to the West’s demands” since that “could pave the way for unlimited demands”.

The IAEA has accused Tehran of failing to provide full and accurate information about its nuclear programme. Iran says its nuclear facilities are solely geared to generating electricity.

A resolution passed by the IAEA’s governing board on Friday called on Iran to clear up lingering doubts by October 31 and suspend all uranium enrichment activities. The resolution implied that if the IAEA still had concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities in November, it could declare Tehran in breach of international obligations and report it to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

Iran insists it has no nuclear arms ambitions and accuses Washington of seeking a pretext to invade the Islamic Republic, as it has its neighbours Afghanistan and Iraq.

Several hardline Iranian commentators have said Iran should follow North Korea’s lead by expelling IAEA inspectors for good and pulling out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hamid Reza Asefi today said Tehran’s future co-operation with the IAEA was under review. “The relevant authorities are discussing it and our decision will be made public in future. We haven’t made a concrete decision on how to continue cooperation with the IAEA,” he said.

Asefi described the IAEA resolution as “politically-motivated” and said its three co-sponsors — Australia, Canada and Japan — had “made a grave mistake”.

Diplomats in Tehran said Iran’s decision-making process was complicated by divisions in the ruling establishment. While the reformist government led by President Mohammad Khatami has been pushing for greater cooperation with the IAEA, powerful hardliners close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have argued the opposite.

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