Iranian cleric for pulling out of NPT

A top Iranian cleric has said the Islamic Republic should consider leaving the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, amid international pressure over its nuclear programme.

    IAEA chief Muhammad al-Baradei wants Tehran to agree to nuclear inspections

    "What harm would it do to get out of the NPT, to reconsider it?"

    Ayat Allah Ahmad Janati told

    worshippers at Friday prayers at Tehran University.

    "North Korea got out, many countries did not enter it, if we had

    not entered it would have been better, but we are free to

    reconsider, why shouldn't we reconsider?" Janati said in his sermon

    broadcast on state radio.

    Iran, suspected by the United States of seeking to

    develop nuclear weapons, is under pressure to sign an additional

    protocol to the treaty allowing for snap inspections of suspect

    sites by international monitors.

    Humiliation

    "We should in no way accept the additional protocol which bears

    extra humiliation for us," added Janati, one of the most senior

    officials in the Islamic republic to suggest pulling out of the NPT

    altogether.

    A week ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gave

    Iran until 31 October to clear up suspicions it is

    using an atomic energy programme as a cover for nuclear weapons

    development.

    The resolution

    demands Iran answer all the IAEA's questions

    regarding its enrichment activities, provide unrestricted access to

    UN inspectors and a detailed list of its nuclear-related imports.

    "North Korea got out... if we had not entered it would have been better, but we are free to reconsider, why shouldn't we reconsider"

    Ayat Allah Ahmad Janati

    Iran denies the charges against it and

    has angrily rejected the resolution, but the country 

    remains divided on whether to continue cooperation with the nuclear

    watchdog.

    Inspections

    Janati said allowing tougher inspections was out of the

    question.

    "If we sign the additional protocol, they can inspect anywhere

    they want. One day it could be the Majlis (parliament), and the next

    day the office of the supreme leader (Ayat Allah Ali Khamenei)," he said

    .

    "Iranians will stand firm against the criminal and conspiring

    United States and will not accept this humiliation," he said, to the

    habitual chant of "Death to America, Death to Israel" from the crowd

    of worshippers.

    Iran's government is currently discussing the terms of the

    additional protocol with the IAEA, saying it wants certain

    "ambiguities" in the text to be clarified before it can make a

    decision on whether to sign.

    SOURCE: AFP


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