Iran threatens reprisals if referred to UNSC

Tehran, January 17:

Iran will suspend its voluntary cooperation with the UN’s atomic energy watchdog if referred to the Security Council over its disputed nuclear programme, a senior official warned today.

Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asgar Soltaniyeh, also told the student news agency ISNA that a move to resume sensitive nuclear research work was “irreversible”.

“As I said, if Iran’s nuclear case leaves the framework of the IAEA for the Security Council, the government will end voluntary cooperation,” he was quoted as saying.

He said this included an end to the voluntary suspension of certain nuclear fuel work and the application of the additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which gives more power to IAEA inspectors. “This message is very clear and very direct, and the (IAEA) secretariat and members must understand this,” he asserted.

Diplomats in London announced plans yesterday to call for an emergency meeting of the IAEA board of directors on February 2-3, which could refer the issue to the UNSC.

A report from London quoted a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair as saying today Britain remains open to a diplomatic solution in the Western standoff with Iran.

Meanwhile, a report from Beijing quoted China as saying today it hopes for a negotiated solution to Iran’s nuclear programme, after France, Britain and Germany called for the issue to be referred to the United Nations’ atomic watchdog.

A report from Moscow quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying today that sanctions are not the best way to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis, and that all nations involved should keep nonproliferation as their main goal. “Sanctions are not the best or the only way to solve international problems,” Lavrov told a news conference.

Ban on CNN lifted

TEHRAN: Iran lifted its ban on CNN on Tuesday, a day after the government had barred the US television network from the country because of its mistranslation of nuclear comments by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, state television reported. Ahmadinejad ordered the reversal “due to the expression of an apology” from CNN over the mistranslation, the state-run TV broadcast said. — AP