Iranian parliament threatens to push for end to nuclear freeze

11-24-2004, 08h43
TEHRAN (AFP)

The head of Iran's hardline parliament warned that deputies would press for a resumption of a controversial nuclear fuel programme if the country comes under too much pressure at this week's meeting of the UN atomic energy watchdog.

"The parliament is expecting that the IAEA and the European Union show that they respect their commitments during the meeting of the board of governors," Gholamali Haddad Adel told the assembly.

"Otherwise the parliament will force the government to resume enrichment."

The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors is to meet Thursday to decide on the next step in the stand-off in the light of Iran's agreement to freeze its activities related to uranium enrichment.

The suspension was part of a deal with Britain, France and Germany, and made after Iran was threatened with being hauled in front of the UN Security Council for possible sanctions -- something the United States has been pushing for.

Haddad Adel said the IAEA meeting would be "the moment of truth in judging the sincerity of the Europeans" -- in other words Iran should make it through the meeting relatively unscathed.

"We will wait and see if the IAEA makes a decision based on the law or if it will make a political decision under US pressure," the head of the Majlis said.

Iran had already frozen actual enrichment of uranium since October 2003, but had pressed on with work on other parts of the fuel cycle -- including converting raw uranium into the gas that is fed into centrifuges for enrichment and making the centrifuges themselves.

The Islamic republic insists it only wants to enrich uranium to low levels, so as to become self-sufficient in producing fuel for a series of atomic energy reactors it plans to build in the future.

But Western officials fear that once it has mastered the fuel cycle, Iran could divert its programme towards making highly enriched uranium -- the explosive core of a nuclear bomb.


AFP