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. Iranian watchdog approves tough nuclear stand
TEHRAN (AFP) Dec 03, 2005
Iran's constitutional watchdog on Saturday backed up the regime's threat of tough reprisals if the UN's nuclear agency refers the Islamic republic to the Security Council, state media said.

The report said the hardline Guardians Council approved a law passed by parliament last month that obliges the government to "stop voluntary and non-legally binding measures" related to the country's disputed nuclear programme if the Iranian case is taken up in New York.

The text does not refer to specific reprisals, but Iran has already said it could refuse to adhere to the additional protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which gives increased inspection powers to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The protocol, signed by the previous reformist government but not ratified by parliament, is seen as being crucial to a UN probe into allegations that Iran is using an atomic energy drive as a cover for weapons development.

Officials have also threatened to end a freeze of uranium enrichment -- a process used to make reactor fuel but which can also make the explosive core of a nuclear weapon.

Iran insists it only wants to make electricity and that fuel cycle work is a "right" for any signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

With the approval of the Guardians Council, the law now only requires the signature of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

This is seen as a mere formality, given that top Iranian officials have already threatened retaliation in the event of a Security Council referral. The move by parliament has been seen as a means for Iran to reinforce such warnings.

Last month the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors put off sending Iran to the UN Security Council to give more time for negotiations, which are being led by Britain, France and Germany.

But the EU-3, backed by the United States, have warned they will push for a Security Council referral if Iran refuses to limit sensitive nuclear fuel work.

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