Iran defiant at IAEA meeting

2012-11-30 20:02


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Vienna - Iran on Friday fiercely denied seeking nuclear weapons and threatened to withdraw from a key treaty aimed at stopping their spread, in another note of defiance just as fresh diplomatic efforts gather pace.

Speaking at a tense UN atomic agency meeting, Iran's envoy said that no "smoking gun" indicating a covert weapons drive had ever been found and that the West wanted to hijack the agency for their own ends.

Presenting a list of "50 questions and answers," Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that "no doubt is left that the (International Atomic Energy Agency) file has to be closed immediately."

He told the closed-door IAEA meeting in Vienna that the six resolutions on Iran passed by the UN Security Council were "illegal" and that Tehran would "never suspend" its programme, according to the text of his remarks.

The speech followed the release of an IAEA report earlier showing that Iran is continuing to defy UN Security Council by expanding its capacity to enrich uranium, which can be used in peaceful purposes but potentially also in a nuclear bomb.

One Western diplomat called the comments "absolutely ridiculous" and said that it made him "very pessimistic" about renewed diplomatic efforts to resolve the long-running crisis.

Soltanieh repeated long-standing Iranian threats that if Israel bombs its facilities, Tehran "may" withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which aims to stop the spread of atomic weapons.

Israel, widely believed to have nuclear weapons -- it has not signed the NPT, like India and Pakistan, while North Korea withdrew -- has refused to rule out military action to prevent its arch-rival also getting the bomb.

Several rounds of talks this year were fruitless however and Washington's envoy to the IAEA, Robert Wood, said on Thursday that the United States would push for the agency's board to take the rare step of referring Iran to the UN Security Council if Tehran displays no "substantive cooperation" by its next board meeting in March.

Read more on:    iaea  |  iran  |  nuclear programme

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