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. Iran warns again on nuclear cooperation
TEHRAN, Jan 9 (AFP) Jan 09, 2007
Iran warned on Tuesday it was still prepared to reduce cooperation with the UN atomic watchdog as two conservative papers criticised President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's handling of the nuclear issue.

Jomhuri Eslami called Ahmadinejad's rhetoric in speeches on Iran's nuclear programme "aggressive", while the daily Hamshahri complained of the "soaring cost" to Iran.

The unusual editorials came as top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Iran would cut its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) if it had to.

"We hope that they (the Western powers) do not do something that makes us lower our cooperation with the Agency," the ISNA student news agency quoted him as saying.

Iran would only take such a step "if they force us to", he said, without specifying what this would involve.

Parliament last month passed a bill obliging the government to "revise" its cooperation with the IAEA in retaliation for UN Security Council sanctions imposed against Iran over its nuclear programme.

However Larijani's comments indicated that the government remains flexible on how to interpret the law.

"There are many ways for reconsideration and it does not mean that it is either zero or 100" percent cooperation, said Larijani.

Indicating that Iran does not intend to pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said: "We consider the principle of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to be useful."

The UN Security Council voted unanimously in December to impose sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment work despite Western fears the process could be used to make nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its nuclear programme is peaceful.

Ahmadinejad has insisted in a series of fiery speeches that Iran will not back down on its nuclear programme, and has also launched virulent verbal attacks on Western countries.

"The Iranian people is determined to defend its right and will resist with a great will and determination," he said in his latest comments on Tuesday.

"The resolution voted by the enemies aims at allowing certain internal elements to weaken the will of the people and create a climate of fear and intimidation."

He said that Iran's enemies were wrong to think that they could "use certain internal elements to deprive the Iranian people of its rights."

However his approach came under fire Tuesday from the two conservative newspapers, who joined reformists in suggesting there were better ways to defend Iran's national interests.

"The tone in which the nuclear issue is treated is aggressive and implies to listeners that there is a kind of stubbornness in our nuclear drive, while our nuclear path, with our leader's wisdom, is a sure and thoughtful one," wrote Jomhuri Eslami.

"Propagating the nuclear issue in your speeches implies that you are using it to cover up some of the government's shortcomings," it told Ahmadinejad.

"Is there is a need for the president to talk about these issues in his speeches? One day he announces we will have 3,000 centrifuges and a few days later he talks about 60,000," it added.

Hamshahri said that "diplomacy has been formed in parallel to our innovative nuclear policy and even overshadowed it and endangered its results.

"The hot speeches of the president brought about two UN resolutions against us, although the designers of this diplomacy saw it coming.

"The sensitivities are such that high-ranking Iranian officials have to come up with an efficient strategy before it is too late to bring about more unity in the country, and secondly to stop the soaring cost."

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