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. Iran law threatens to block nuclear inspections
TEHRAN (AFP) Dec 17, 2005
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this week signed off on legislation that could limit UN inspections into Iran's nuclear sites if its case is taken to the UN Security Council, the semi-official Fars agency reported Saturday.

The new law obliges the government to "stop voluntary and non-legally binding measures and implement its scientific, research and executive programmes" if the Iranian case is taken up in the Security Council.

It does not refer to specific forms of retaliation, but counter-measures could include refusing to adhere to the additional protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which gives increased inspection powers to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The law was signed by Ahmadinejad on December 13 and came into effect the same day.

Ahmadinejad has ordered the head of Iran's atomic energy organization Gholam Reza Aghazadeh to be prepared to apply the law, the Fars news agency said.

Iran's conservative parliament adopted the bill last month, and it was ratified on November 30 by the powerful Guardians Council that vets all legislation.

With regard to nuclear matters, the additional protocol was signed by the previous reformist government but was never ratified by deputies.

Compliance with the additional protocol is seen as being crucial to an IAEA probe into allegations that Iran is using an atomic energy drive as a cover for weapons development.

An EU-Iran meeting is planned for next Wednesday in Vienna, but European and Western diplomats say there is little hope of progress in getting Tehran to abandon nuclear fuel work.

Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian energy purposes but the United States believes it is a cover for building nuclear weapons.

Iran has maintained that it has the right to enrich uranium on its own territory.

Enrichment makes what can be fuel for nuclear power reactors but also the raw material for atom bombs.

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