Iran to review IAEA nuclear co-operation

2011-11-22 16:55

Tehran - Iranian lawmakers were on Tuesday to review co-operation with the UN atomic energy watchdog, the day after the US and allies slapped new sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear programme.

The meeting of parliament's national security and foreign policy commission was to follow a regular weekly briefing of foreign ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast expected to address the fresh sanctions.

The US, Britain and Canada on Monday announced they were taking moves to further isolate Iran's central bank and other financial institutions in order to add pressure on Tehran on its atomic activities.

France said it, too, was "in favour of new unprecedented sanctions".

The co-ordinated, unilateral sanctions were being imposed on the basis of a November 8 report by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency that said there was "credible" evidence Iran appeared to be pursuing nuclear weapons research.


Iran has slammed the report as "baseless" and accused IAEA chief Yukiya Amano of pro-US bias. It has reiterated that its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful, civilian uses.

While some Iranian lawmakers have called for co-operation with the IAEA to be cut, and Iran boycotted an IAEA forum on Tuesday focused on creating a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, officials have said Iran would maintain its obligations under the agency.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Sunday his country would even co-operate "further" with the UN atomic energy agency if it "balances its approach" to the Islamic republic.

Trade and commerce minister, Mehdi Ghazanfari, admitted on Monday ahead of the new sanctions - which had been signalled days ahead in the US press - that Iran would "suffer" under the measures.

But he asserted that Iran would survive by becoming more self-reliant, and by doing business with other countries.

Ghazanfari also said countries shying away from Iran because of the sanctions would be hurt by losing access to Iran's oil and gas exports.

"It is they [who face] not having enough energy [supplies]. Because if they do not come here and invest, then they should think of alternatives," he said.

"If they do not invest in our oil projects, they will lose a good market for contracts as well as the market for installing equipment. Companies making this equipment would be shut down," he said.

Iran's economy, worth an estimated $480bn according to the International Monetary Fund, is highly dependent on oil sales, which make up around 70% of government revenues.

The sanctions announced on Monday aim to tighten the noose on Iran's financial sector, making it more difficult for the country to be paid for its oil.

They stopped short, however, of hitting the central bank with more draconian measures, which Western officials and analysts feared could cause a spike in oil prices, worsening the global economic malaise and providing Iran with a revenue windfall.