Iran Partly Suspends Nuclear Pledges

By Nasser Karimi
Associated Press
Monday, March 26, 2007

TEHRAN, Iran, March 25 -- The Iranian government announced Sunday that it was partially suspending cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, citing the "illegal" sanctions the Security Council imposed on the country Saturday for its refusal to stop enriching uranium.

Gholam Hossein Elham, a government spokesman, said on state television that the suspension would "continue until Iran's nuclear case is referred back" to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In New York, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, "A few select countries don't have the right to abuse the Security Council."

"The Security Council has to be aware of its own position and status," he added. "Actions that are illegal, unwarranted and unjustified will reduce the credibility of the Security Council."

Mottaki said Iran has repeatedly sought negotiations with the powers that drafted the resolution against the Islamic republic: the five permanent council members -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- and Germany. But he accused those countries of lacking the political will to reach a breakthrough.

"If this political will existed, the other side wouldn't have imposed preconditions on the talks," Mottaki said, referring to declarations by the United States and its allies that Iran must halt enrichment before they will engage in negotiations on its nuclear program.

The world has two options on the nuclear issue, he said: continued negotiations or confrontation.

"Choosing the path of confrontation . . . will have its own consequences," he said without elaborating.

Elham said the Iranian cabinet decided Sunday to suspend "code 1-3 of minor arrangements of the safeguards" agreed to with the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2002.

Under Iran's safeguards agreements with the IAEA, part of its commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the country is obligated to inform the agency six months before it introduces nuclear material of any kind into any facility.

Iran has also voluntarily committed to informing the agency of any planned new nuclear construction beforehand -- a commitment it has not always kept. For instance, in 2004 it delayed informing the agency that it was building tunnels in the central city of Isfahan to house some of its uranium enrichment activities.

Elham, the government spokesman, said Iran's decision Sunday was a response to the "illegal and bullying resolution by the Security Council."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company