Iranian foreign minister accuses Europeans of bowing to US in nuclear crisis
TEHRAN (AFP) Jun 16, 2004
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi bitterly accused Britain, France and Germany Wednesday of bowing to US pressure and submitting a draft resolution to the UN nuclear watchdog that is highly critical of the Islamic republic.

"The draft resolution proposed by the European countries on the board of the IAEA corresponds to the wishes of the United States," he was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

The executive board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is this week mulling over a new resolution on Iran's suspect nuclear programme.

The draft text is a hardening of the tone from the Europeans, and reflects concerns voiced by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei that Iran has not done enough to ease widespread suspicions it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of trying to generate atomic energy.

The draft "deplores... that overall Iran's cooperation has not been as full, timely and pro-active as it should have been" and "underlines that with the passage of time, it is becoming ever more important that Iran work proactively with the agency."

But Kharazi said now was not the time to get tougher with Iran, bearing in mind the Iranian parliament fell into the hands of religious hardliners in February's controversial elections that saw reformists routed from public office.

The Iranian parliament has to debate the ratification of Iran's signature last year of the additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a text that obliges it to accept tighter IAEA inspections.

"The parliament is not the same as the last one, and the Europeans have to take this into account," Kharazi warned. "The process to adopt the additional protocol will be long and we should not expect the new parliament to do it rapidly."

One of the IAEA's demands is the quick ratification of the text, although on Wednesday the new hardline head of parliament said the text would be rejected if it was not seen as being in Iran's interests.

Iran asserts it is not interested in nuclear weapons, and claims it has fulfilled all its obligations to the IAEA.

But the agency still has to account for the finds here of traces of highly enriched and possibly bomb-grade uranium, which Iran says came into the country on equipment bought on an international black market.