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. Iran parliament takes first step to block nuclear inspections
TEHRAN, Sept 5 (AFP) Sep 05, 2006
Iran's foreign affairs committee on Tuesday approved a bill that could block UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of its nuclear facilities, the first step towards parliament adopting the law.

"The committee of foreign affairs and national security has adopted the bill after a first reading," Kazem Jalali, the commission's spokesman told the IRNA news agency.

"The commission must then adopt the bill in a second reading, and it would come into force if there is pressure against Iran and in the case of (United Nations) sanctions," he added.

The draft law, which would only come into force if sanctions or similar measures were imposed on Iran, would also have to be adopted by Iran's conservative-dominated parliament.

The move comes after Iran failed to meet a UN August 31 deadline to halt sensitive uranium enrichment activities, prompting a drive by the United States for the Security Council to impose sanctions.

Iran has already cut down on IAEA access after the agency referred it to the Security Council earlier this year, ceasing to apply an Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that allowed for wider, short-notice inspections.

But it is still applying the safeguards agreement.

In late August, IAEA diplomats said the Islamic republic had blocked inspectors from visiting a key enrichment facility in Natanz and had refused visas for a number of inspectors.

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