Iran warns West over UN referral

Iran will resume uranium enrichment on an industrial scale if it is referred to the UN over its nuclear stand-off with the West, a senior Iranian official has warned.

    Larijani: Time to resume talks with the EU

    The comments from Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani came in an interview published in Monday's Financial Times.

    Speaking to the FT, Larijani urged the European Union to resume talks which broke down after Tehran resumed its controversial nuclear research programme.

    Larijani told the FT:"If we are referred to the Security Council, the government is obliged by the Majlis (Iran's parliament) to lift all voluntary measures including the Additional Protocol" to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

    Asked if that meant Iran would resume industrial production of enriched uranium fuel he replied: "Yes."

    He said, however: "The NPT is still alive and can survive. Iran will stay in the NPT. If the treaty is implemented well, it can help international order."

    'Lack of consensus'

    Britain, France and Germany are seeking to obtain guarantees that Iran will not use nuclear research to hide secret development on weapons.

    They have called an emergency meeting of the
    International Atomic Energy Agency on 2 February to decide whether to bring Iran before the Security Council for possible sanctions.

    Larijani made light of this move when he said: "There is no consensus over referral to the Security Council. The way Europe is dealing with Iran shows the lack of international consensus."

    Russia was reluctant to put pressure on Iran and President Valdimir Putin said: "Our preference is for talks".

    Price warnings

    Increasing international tensions over Iran's nuclear programme have seen oil prices surge in recent days, reaching $69.20 a barrel on Monday, the highest since September 2 last year.

    However, some oil analysts have warned that could be just a taste of things to come, saying prices could exceed $100 a barrel if the Security Council authorises sanctions.

    Iran is the second largest oil
    exporter in Opec

    James Bartis, a senior researcher at Rand Corp said: "Even if Iran pulled a small amount of its oil off the market, say it pulled a half million barrels a day, I could see oil prices literally jumping over the $100 per barrel mark."

    Iran is the second-largest oil producer within Opec and exports roughly 2.5 million barrels a day - 1 million barrels more than current excess production capacity worldwide. 

    However, other oil analysts say prices probably would not climb much higher than $75 a barrel before strategic reserves

    would be released and demand would begin to taper off as

    economic activity slowed around the world.


    The United States and other members of the International Energy Agency have a combined 1.48 billion barrels of oil in their emergency stocks.

    That is equivalent to about 600 days of Iran's net oil exports of 2.4 million barrels a day.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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