Iran defies UN over nuclear programme

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Iran has rejected UN demands that it suspend a uranium enrichment programme, which some Western countries believe could help it develop nuclear weapons. The stage is now set for a showdown in November, with Iran defying the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has, in effect, set a deadline to co-operate.

Iran has rejected UN demands that it suspend a uranium enrichment programme, which some Western countries believe could help it develop nuclear weapons. The stage is now set for a showdown in November, with Iran defying the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has, in effect, set a deadline to co-operate.

"Iran will not accept any obligation regarding the suspension of uranium enrichment," the Islamic Republic's top security official, Hassan Rohani, said yesterday. "No international body can force Iran to do so."

The resolution on Saturday, drafted by European countries, said the IAEA board would decide at its next meeting on 25 November if it needed to take "further steps", interpreted as a referral to the Security Council. The IAEA board has grown increasingly frustrated with what it sees as Iranian obduracy towards nuclear inspectors. Several times undeclared facilities or actions have come to light that suggested Iran had misled the body.

Mr Rohani said Iran would stop allowing short-notice nuclear inspections if its case was passed to the Security Council. Iran agreed to a more intrusive inspections regime last October, when it signed an additional protocol of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and accepted the voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment activities. In return, Britain, France and Germany promised to help with technology for a peaceful atomic energy plant.

But even if the IAEA refers Iran to the Security Council, it is far from clear what action would be taken. America has hinted at economic sanctions but some members, including France, have major commercial interests in Iran.

Iran says it needs the uranium enrichment programme to supply its proposed nuclear power plant with fuel. And Iranian officials say the suspension of enrichment was not a legal requirement but a voluntary measure. It accuses the Europeans of failing to come good on their promise of technical help. But the European countries say Iran reneged on the deal by continuing to manufacture parts that could be used in an enrichment programme.

Comments