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.

 

Egypt blacklists Hamas armed wing as ‘terrorist organization’

UN chief backs African force to fight Boko Haram

Party of Yemen ex-president breaks boycott to join Huthi meeting

Concern rises in Japan as hostage negotiations hit 'deadlock'

Wary of Internet, jihadists change communication strategy

Who plotted assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh?

Bahrain revokes citizenship of 72 unrest convicts

AU: Ignoring South Sudan findings will help the guilty

Hezbollah warns it does not fear new war with Israel

Saudi blogger’s flogging postponed for third week

Iran seeks good relations with Saudi Arabia

Jordan still kept in the dark over pilot fate

Syria’s Qaeda fights Western-backed rebels

Abbas to visit Stockholm after Palestine recognised

UN chief to African leaders: do not 'cling to power'

Israel to go ahead with 430 new West Bank settler homes

Libya rivals to join peace talks if held on home soil

New Saudi king announces sweeping cabinet shake-up

Deadly Sinai attacks force Sisi to cut short overseas trip

Israel reduces energy supplies to Palestinians

Syria opposition embassy in Qatar renews passports

Hezbollah sends message to Israel ‘conflict is over’

Women protest against Egypt police after fatal shooting

Libyan airline suspends flights

Iraq government vows to investigate Diyala massacre

MSF withdraws help from two Sudan states

Jordan wants to see proof pilot alive before exchange

US says thousands of Somali children facing starvation

Kuwait online activists arrested 'over Saudi criticism'

British mosques open doors to reach out to citizens

Iran, Europe officials to meet Thursday in Istanbul

IS issues new deadline to kill Jordanian pilot if demand not met

Netanyahu warns Hezbollah will pay 'full price'

African Union sees no military solution to Libya crisis

Yemen powerful militia prevents fresh protest in Sanaa

Iran appoints new UN ambassador after US visa refusal

Pentagon confirms US involvement in talks with Yemen Huthis

Hezbollah missiles threaten to spark new war in volatile region

In new website, France warns would-be jihadists: You will die alone

Israel retaliates against Hezbollah attack

Can Iraqis trust their government to rebuild their country?

Sheikh Ali Salman rejects charges as trial opens in Bahrain

Protesters try to storm UN headquarters in Gaza

UN peacekeeper killed in southern Lebanon amid border clash

Kobane in ruins after symbolic blow to jihadists