First Published: 2003-06-02

 
Tehran brushes off US concerns over nukes
 

Iran shuns international pressure over its suspected nuclear programme, refuses to allow tougher inspections.

 

Middle East Online

By Siavosh Ghazi - TEHRAN

These are just pretexts

Iran on Monday rejected mounting international calls for it to sign an additional protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that would allow tougher inspections of its suspect nuclear programme.

The refusal came after Russia, which is helping the Islamic republic build its first atomic power plant in Bushehr in southern Iran, joined calls for Tehran to grant International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors full access to its nuclear facilities.

A string of nations, including Britain, France and Australia, have urged Iran to take what they call a badly-needed "confidence building" step that would ease jitters in Washington that the Islamic republic could go nuclear.

Iran has been clearly warned that crossing the nuclear weapons threshold would be "unacceptable", while its assertions that the programme is exclusively civil have failed to convince.

"If the Russians are worried, we are ready to discuss this with them," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters, the day after Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov joined calls for Iran to show greater transparency.

"The question of sanctions has to be resolved first. We will not sign any other international accord while the West does not respect its obligations outlined by the NPT, and does not help us with peaceful nuclear technology as the NPT obliges them to," he added.

Iran, a signatory of the NPT, is currently only subject to IAEA inspections of declared sites. But the country has consistently argued that it has no obligation to grant more powers to the IAEA when other signatories are refusing to meet their NPT obligations related to the transfer of civil nuclear technology.

Russia is also coming under almost daily pressure from the United States to halt its multi-billion dollar nuclear cooperation with Iran, a country lumped into an "axis of evil" by US President George W. Bush.

But Asefi asserted that Moscow "has commitments with us that it has to respect".

As for US concerns, Asefi brushed them off as "pretexts".

"The United States is not really worried about what they call weapons of mass destruction or our nuclear programme. These are just pretexts: if they are worried, all they have to do is come here and help us build our nuclear power stations," he said.

And Asefi dismissed the argument that Iran has no need for nuclear power, given its massive oil and gas reserves - a logic given by the United States as a clear indication that the atomic energy programme here is just a convenient cover.

"It was the United States that proposed to the former regime of the Shah to build nuclear power plants," Asefi asserted.

But diplomats here say the pressure that Iran now finds itself under is only likely to increase over the coming months.

A key test will be a mid-June report on Iran's programme by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei. Analysts believe he will conclude that his limited access to sites here leaves him unable to categorically state that Iran has no nuclear weapons programme.

 

Turkish warplanes pound Kurdish forces in Iraq, Syria

US criticizes 1915 massacres in Armenia

Iran, major powers to review adherence to nuclear deal

Netanyahu cancels talks with German FM over NGO meetings

Young Iraqi innovator building home-made drones

Baghdad condemns Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish forces

IS executes Iraqi civilians in Mosul

Qatar World Cup workers receive random health checks

Libyan government calls for foreign intervention as fighting spreads

Tunisia parliament votes to ease harsh drug law

Nostalgia dominates Iraqi Ba’ath conference in Spain

Moroccans call on Le Pen voters to quit country

Turkey court rejects opposition challenge to referendum result

Spain arrests 4 for links to Belgium IS attacks

Iraq forces push towards UNESCO site in Hatra

Israel appoints country's first female sharia judge

Frontline clinic is window to hell of IS-held Mosul

Iraq forces retake west Mosul neighbourhood from IS

Iraqi Kurds lament ‘unacceptable’ Turkish air strikes

Khamenei urges Iran candidates to focus on home

UN chief urges donors to prevent Yemen famine

Yemen’s ‘march for bread’ protestors end week-long march

Jailed British-Iranian sees final appeal rejected in Tehran

Iran election may be pointer to race for supreme leader

US-backed forces enter key IS-held Syria town Tabqa

Israel probe clears officer who shot teen attackers

Syria ‘ready’ to halt fire for chemical attack probe

Israel charges teenager for bomb threats against Jewish institutions

Egypt sentences 20 to death over 2013 police killings

Erdogan accuses researcher of 'inciting assassination'

Qatar Airways CEO accuses US carriers of ‘bullying’

At least 15 migrants drown near Lesbos

Former employees work to salvage Mosul University

Jordan wary about jihadists wishing to return home

US fires opening shots in confrontation with Iran

Mattis sees Saudi Arabia ‘helping across the region’

Sirens, silence as Israel remembers Holocaust

Houthis intensify crackdown on dissent in Yemen

Italian reporter released in Turkey

Algiers summons Morocco envoy over Syrian migrant row

Macron, Le Pen gird for final French election duel

Iran reverses decision to ban live presidential debates

Six Israelis including two soldiers held for anti-Arab attacks

Economists, rights advocates concerned over Egypt’s state of emergency

US Defense Secretary Mattis visits strategic Djibouti