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 Post subject: Iran threatens to quit treaty
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 2:22 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2006 4:13 pm
Posts: 1672
Location: South Australia
Iran threatens to quit treaty
From correspondents in Tehran
March 13, 2006

IRAN has threatened to walk out of an international atomic treaty, as it continued to insist on its right to conduct sensitive nuclear activities ahead of a key meeting of the UN Security Council.

The foreign ministry also said a compromise proposal from Russia to end the nuclear standoff was now "off the agenda" but subsequently clarified its position to say that the plan was still negotiable.

Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran said is a drive for peaceful energy but is alleged by the United States to be a cover for weapons production, is due to be discussed at the UN Security Council next week amid the looming threat of sanctions.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki threatened that Iran could quit the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which governs the peaceful use of nuclear energy, if its atomic rights were not acknowledged.

"If we reach a point where the existing mechanisms do not provide for the right of the Iranian people, then the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran would be possibly revised and reconsidered," Mr Mottaki told reporters, in response to a question over whether Iran would consider leaving the NPT.

"At the moment we believe that there is a chance for different sides to continue the negotiations," he said on the sidelines of an international conference on energy and security in Asia.

Meanwhile there was confusion over the future of a Russian compromise proposal under which Iran would conduct its sensitive uranium enrichment activities - the key sticking point - on Russian soil.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi told reporters the suggestion was off the table now that the case was in the hands of the security council.

However Mr Asefi later told public television the Russian compromise proposal on its nuclear program can still be negotiated, as long as it acknowledges Iran's right to enrich uranium on home soil.

"As for the Russian proposal, if it considers Iran's right to conduct (nuclear) research on its soil, it can be a topic of negotiation, because the right to conduct research in Iran is the Islamic republic's right that we neither want to give up nor will do," he said.

Mr Asefi also went on to say that Iran would never comply with any UN Security Council resolution ordering it to suspend uranium enrichment.

When asked what the Islamic republic would do if any UN Security Council resolution ordered it to suspend uranium enrichment, Mr Asefi said: "Never."

He did not elaborate.

Although Tehran has proposed suspending industrial-scale enrichment, it is refusing to halt enrichment research - but Western powers argue that even this would allow the clerical regime to acquire nuclear weapons know-how.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has sent an assessment report on Iran's program to the security council after a failed three-year-old probe to confirm the true nature of Iran's activities.

On Friday, the five veto-wielding members of the security council held another round of private talks on how to respond to Iran's nuclear defiance ahead of an expected meeting by the full 15-member council next week.

The council, which unlike the IAEA has the power to impose sanctions and can even authorise military action, is first expected to endorse demands that Tehran halt uranium enrichment - a reactor fuel-making process that can be extended to weapons development.

Iran - OPEC's second biggest oil producer - has been sending mixed messages over whether it would use its oil exports as a weapon in the case of action from the security council.

Mr Mottaki insisted Iran would remain a reliable energy supplier, a day after the interior minister issued a new warning on Iranian oil exports.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to be a reliable and effective energy supplier for Asian countries and not to use oil to implement its foreign policy," Mr Mottaki said.

However, Iranian media reported apparently contradictory remarks from Interior Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi that suggested Iran could use oil as a weapon if it was hit by economic sanctions over its nuclear program.

"We have energy, we have both our big consumer market and that of the region, and we have control over the biggest and the most sensitive energy route in the world," said Mr Pour-Mohammadi today.

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