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.

 

Iran-backed bomb attack foiled in Jordan

Iran nuclear talks enter in final straight

Carrot and stick as ‘Islamic Sate’ seeks to win over Sunni tribes

7 Iraqis killed in accidental warplane bomb

A year after Gaza war, Shijaiyah still trying to recover

'Islamic State' bomb attacks target Iraq town of Haditha

Egypt arrests Brotherhood members over plot to disrupt shipping at Suez Canal

Egypt reveals number of Sinai militants killed in last five days

‘Islamic State’ seizes Syria town of Ain Issa from Kurdish forces

Crunch talks to seal Iran nuclear deal begin in Vienna

Warplanes target headquarters of Saleh party in Yemen capital

Egypt to reconsider parts of anti-terrorism draft law

Morocco journalist on hunger strike in Geneva told to return home

Near Gaza Strip, Israelis live in fear behind concrete walls

Tunisia declares state of emergency after beach massacre

After Tunisia beach massacre, tourists switch to other destinations

Deadly US raids target ISIS stronghold in Syria

Concern and grief as Britain remembers 2005 terror bombings

Iran nuclear talks: Will Ministers score diplomatic success?

Erdogan moots possibility of snap election

Coalitions of Syria rebels battle regime forces in Aleppo

Lawlessness in Libya poses real danger for Tunisia

Hezbollah backs Syria army in major assault on border city

Syria mosque explosion kills at least 25 Nusra fighters

Egypt President in Sinai after jihadist attacks on security forces

Yemen Huthi rebels ‘attack’ various areas in Saudi Arabia

No guarantee of success as Iran nuclear talks inch closer to lasting deal

Egypt ‘in state of war’ on second anniversary of Islamist ouster

Ansar al-Sharia denies killing of Abu Iyadh in US air strike

Rockets from Sinai strike Israel

Palestinians arrest 100 Hamas members in West Bank

Erdogan inaugurates public mosque in palace

Islamists form alliance in battle for Aleppo

Top Tunisian jihadist reportedly killed by US strike in Libya

Emir attends joint Shiite, Sunni prayers in Kuwait

Hamas denies involvement in Sinai attacks

4 Qaeda suspects killed in US drone attack in Yemen

'Series of errors' behind Air Algerie crash in Mali

Ankara has no plans for imminent intervention in Syria

21 killed in clashes, strikes in Yemen's Aden

GCC states vow united stand against IS mosque bombings

Palestinians protest one year after teenager burned alive

Egypt vows to wipe out 'dens of terror'

Tunisia arrests eight in connection with beach massacre

Youth in Tunisia 'ripe for radicalisation'