Iran threatens to end cooperation with UN nuclear watchdog
TEHRAN (AFP) Mar 10, 2004
Iran will halt its cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog if European states fail to counter US pressure on the Islamic republic over its atomic programme, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi threatened Wednesday.

The minister also said Iran intended to end its suspension of uranium enrichment -- a key step in producing both nuclear weapons and atomic energy -- once relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were "normalised."

"Unfortunately, the agency allows itself to be influenced by the Americans," Kharazi told reporters here after a cabinet meeting.

"We are engaged in cooperation (with the IAEA), and for this to continue the cooperation has to be bilateral. If one side does not respect its obligations, the cooperation will end," he added.

The foreign minister asserted that he expected European states -- which have brokered Iran's continued cooperation with the IAEA -- to counter mounting US pressure over the Islamic republic's suspect bid to generate atomic energy.

"We advise the Europeans to respect their obligations and to resist American pressure, otherwise there is no reason for cooperation to continue," he warned.

The minister also suggested that the Islamic republic was becoming increasingly impatient to resume its controversial work of making its own enriched uranium instead of importing it.

"In order to build confidence we decided to voluntarily suspend, for a limited time, our enrichment activities. When relations with the IAEA are normalised, we will resume enrichment," Kharazi said.

He spoke after the United States and western European countries reached tentative agreement on a draft resolution criticising Iran for failing to declare sensitive parts of its nuclear program but putting off seeking any sanctions until at least June.

The resolution is to be submitted to the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors, which is meeting this week at its headquarters in Vienna.

Regarding the draft resolution, Kharazi only said that Iran "has no problem with some articles but does have problems with others."

The United States, which claims Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, along with Canada and Australia, has been pushing for a tough text against Iran but Britain, France and Germany wanted a milder draft in order to keep Iran cooperating with the IAEA.

The so-called Euro 3 had in October struck a deal with Iran to cooperate with the IAEA, and are stressing the path of "constructive engagement".

On Tuesday, Kharazi had warned that Iran, which claims its atomic programme is strictly peaceful, will "not accept" being declared as having violated nuclear safeguards agreements.