Iran 'to retaliate' if sent to UN
TEHRAN, Wednesday (Reuters) Iran's president confirmed his government
would start enriching uranium and end U.N. snap inspections of nuclear
facilities if its case were referred to the U.N. Security Council.
Iranian lawmakers on Sunday overwhelmingly voted these retaliatory
measures into law, attempting to give the Islamic Republic some leverage
before a board of governors meeting of the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) on Thursday.
"We follow the parliament and will definitely implement its bills,"
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told state television.
Iran risks referral to the Security Council for possible sanctions
after failing to convince the world its atomic scientists are working on
power stations rather than warheads.
However, EU diplomats have said they are not going to push for Iran
to be referred to the world body at this week's IAEA meeting.
Iranian officials have consistently insisted Iran has a right to a
full fuel cycle and must be allowed to enrich uranium.
Ahmadinejad said Iran would stand by its rights but made no specific
mention of the Russian plan. "Should we step back from our independence,
freedom and territorial integrity? We should not," he said.
Meanwile European Union powers are ready to revive nuclear talks with
Iran to discuss a Russian proposal aimed at defusing an impasse over
what the West believes is an Iranian atomic bomb programme, diplomats
Under Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal, Iran would be
allowed to continue converting uranium ore but would ship it to Russia
for enrichment, a system which, in theory, would prevent Iran from
producing weapons-grade uranium.
Iran, whose president last month said Israel should be "wiped off the
map", denies Western allegations that it has a clandestine nuclear bomb
programme and insists its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful
generation of electricity.
"We are considering a meeting in December in Vienna. The Iranians
would have to say they want to meet and talk about the Russian
proposal," a diplomat from the so-called EU3 - France, Britain and
Germany - said on condition of anonymity.
He said the EU3 were prepared to make a major concession in the
interest of resuming dialogue with Iran - they would be willing to meet
even if Tehran did not reinstate a suspension of uranium processing
activities at its Isfahan plant.
The trio had made this a condition of restarting talks, but Tehran
has so far ruled out halting work at Isfahan.
Britain confirmed that a meeting with the Iranians was under
"We will consider next steps, including a possible meeting with the
Iranians after the board," a British Foreign Office spokesman said,
referring to Thursday's meeting of the International Atomic Energy
Agency's board of governors on Iran.
No official comment was available from Tehran. However, EU officials
said Iran would probably react positively, given that the Europeans and
Americans were prepared to drop their demand that all work at Isfahan be
halted before talks resumed.
Other EU3 officials confirmed a meeting was under consideration, but
said many aspects - including the timing, the venue and the seniority of
officials who would attend - were unclear and warned that it might never
On Monday, EU and U.S. officials said they would not push the IAEA's
35-nation board to refer Iran this week to the U.N. Security Council for
possible sanctions, as the Western powers had previously threatened to
The officials cited a desire to allow Iran more time to think about
the Russian plan.
Last week, U.S. President George W. Bush said he backed Putin's
The proposal would allow Iran to continue converting uranium ore into
gas at Isfahan if the most critical stage of nuclear fuel production -
uranium enrichment - was transferred to Russia as part of a joint
venture. In exchange, Iran would get economic and political benefits.
Iran has not formally rejected the Russian idea but has stressed
repeatedly that it aims to enrich uranium domestically, calling this a
sovereign right it would never renounce.
Meanwhile a nuclear plant being built by Russian engineers in Iran is
not yet ready to receive its first shipment of nuclear fuel, a senior
Russian official said Tuesday.
Moscow has previously said that first deliveries of fuel to the
controversial nuclear station would take place around the end of this
year or start of 2006.
"The Bushehr plant is not at present technically ready to receive
nuclear fuel," Alexander Shmygin, the newly-appointed chief of Russia's
atomic energy agency, was quoted by the state RIA-Novosti news agency as
He said it would be "very difficult" to store the fuel in the Gulf
region until the Bushehr plant was ready to receive it, but did not
"We will ensure the fuel remains secure in a Russian facility," he