Iranian lawmakers threaten IAEA


(JTA) — Iran’s parliament threatened to reduce its cooperation with the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency and approved plans to build ten new uranium enrichment facilities.

Sunday’s call by Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani to "form a new type of relationship with the West," backed by a statement from lawmakers read in parliament, comes two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors voted to censure Iran for building a nuclear enrichment facility in secret and demanded it freeze its nuclear enrichment program.

"If the West continues to pressure us, then parliament can review Iran’s cooperation level with the IAEA," Larijani said.

The Iranian parliament ordered the government in 2006 to cease cooperation with the IAEA after the agency reported it to the U.N. Security Council, according to reports.

Last Friday’s IAEA resolution, which passed 25-3 with six abstentions, was significant because it was backed by all six major world powers, including Russia and China. Both of those countries have been reluctant to go along with Western efforts to sanction Iran for its nuclear program, although it remains unclear if the vote signaled that Russia and China would support further punitive measures.

The only three nations to vote against the resolution were Cuba, Venezuela and Malaysia.

Iran’s chief delegate to the atomic agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told the meeting that the resolution would not change Iran’s plans, according to media reports.

"Neither resolutions of the board of governors nor those of the United Nations Security Council, neither sanctions nor the threat of military attacks, can interrupt peaceful nuclear activities in Iran, even a second," he said in remarks made available to reporters.

Israel commended the passage of the resolution.

"The importance of the resolution is in its determination that Iran is continuing to defy the resolutions of both the Security Council and the IAEA board of governors, as well as its expression of concern over the fact that Iran is building its enrichment facility in Qom in secret," said Israeli Embassy spokesman Jonathan Peled. "The demand to immediately halt the construction of this facility is of extreme importance."

On Nov. 26, IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei told a meeting of the agency’s 35-nation board of governors that the IAEA investigation into Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program is at "a dead end" due to Iran’s lack of cooperation.

ElBaradei is stepping down Monday as agency chief.

Iran last week rejected a plan brokered by the Vienna-based agency, under which Iran would relinquish the bulk of the uranium it had enriched to low levels, sending it to Russia and then France for further enrichment; it then would be returned to Iran. Six world powers, including the United States, had endorsed the deal.

In a counter-offer, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in a news conference Nov. 24 that Tehran would send its low-enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment if it received 20 percent pure uranium processed abroad at the same time as a guarantee, according to reports.

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