Iran warns of UN referral fallout

Iran has threatened to resume uranium enrichment and block UN inspections of its nuclear facilities unless the UN nuclear agency reverses its resolution to refer it to the Security Council for possible sanctions.

    Hamid Reza Asefi: What should we do to prove our sincerity?

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on Tuesday that Iran would consider reducing its trade with those countries that voted for Saturday's resolution, particularly India.

    "We were very surprised by India," he said.


    Energy-hungry India in June signed a $22 billion deal to

    import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Iran for 25 years from

    2009, when Iran's exports of the supercooled fuel are due to hit world markets.


    The IAEA resolution put Iran on the verge of referral to the UN Security Council unless Tehran moves to ease suspicions about its nuclear activities.

    The resolution told Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment activities, including uranium conversion, to abandon construction of a heavy water nuclear reactor, and to grant access to certain locations and documents.

    Politically motivated

    Iran has rejected the resolution, saying it was politically motivated and without legal foundation.


    Asefi said on Tuesday that Iran was asking its European negotiating partners - Britain, France and Germany - and the IAEA for two things:

    The IAEA voted to refer Iran to
    the UN Security Council

    "First, they should not insist [on the terms of the resolution]. Second, they should correct it. If the other parties' reaction is not along these lines, the Islamic Republic of Iran will take these measures," Asefi said.

    He said Iran would cease to abide by the "voluntary measures" that it has been implementing as an expression of goodwill.

    "If the IAEA and European countries do not make up for their error, we will cancel all voluntary measures we have taken," Asefi said.

    Enrichment resumption

    In effect, this means that Iran would resume enrichment of uranium and disregard the
    Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) under which it grants IAEA inspectors the right to unfettered inspections of its nuclear facilities.

    Asefi warned that referral to the UN Security Council could have unforeseen consequences. The resolution set no date for referral, but said it would be considered later.

    "It is always easy to create a crisis, but not easy to control it," Asefi said. "We are giving the IAEA and the Europeans a very serious warning about this."


    Iran would consider punishing those countries that voted

    for the resolution by cutting trade, he said.


    "We will regulate our relations with other countries based on mutual interest. There are different levers in different areas to reduce economic ties."

    Asefi added that Iran's offer to give foreign countries and companies a role in its nuclear programme was a "sincere measure of transparency".

    "If the IAEA and European countries do not make up for their error, we will cancel all voluntary measures we have taken"

    Hamid Reza Asefi,
    Foreign Ministry spokesman

    Europeans have disregarded the offer, which was made by

    President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad at this month's UN summit

    in New York.

    "What should we do to prove our sincerity?" Asefi asked

    rhetorically. "We are allowing them to lay their beds inside our facilities."

    Asefi reiterated that Iran would never abandon its uranium enrichment programme, a right to which it is entitled as a signatory to the NPT.


    Washington accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, but

    Tehran says it needs atomic fuel for power stations.


    Oil weapon

    Angered by the IAEA resolution, Tehran has already threatened to resume uranium enrichment - a process which can be used to make bomb-grade material - and curtail short-notice UN inspections.

    Analysts had predicted that Iran could also roll out the oil weapon in a bid to prompt a change of heart among countries seeking to send Iran to the Security Council.

    But such a move could backfire. Oil accounts for 80% of export earnings and interrupting that flow of hard cash would be politically risky.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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