Iran will ditch fuel plan if new sanctions: speaker

By Hossein Jaseb

TEHRAN (BestGrowthStock) – Iran will abandon an offer to ship some of its uranium stockpile abroad if the United States imposes new sanctions, its parliament speaker said on Sunday.

Iran is due to notify the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday of a deal struck last week with Brazil and Turkey which it had hoped would avert new U.N. sanctions sought by the West to pressure Tehran over its nuclear activities.

But speaker Ali Larijani, an influential conservative and Iran’s former nuclear negotiator, said Washington’s continued determination to impose sanctions could even lead Tehran to review its cooperation with the U.N. nuclear agency.

“If the Americans want to seek adventure, whether in the U.N Security Council or in Congress, all the efforts of Turkey and Brazil will be in vain and this path will be abandoned,” he said in remarks carried by state broadcaster IRIB.

“In this situation parliament will make a different decision over Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA.”

Just hours after the leaders of Iran, Brazil and Turkey celebrated the deal last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that all five U.N. Security Council members had agreed a draft sanctions resolution.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told his cabinet the Security Council “would have no credit left” if the sanctions went ahead.

“We are closely following global developments but we will make the enemies long to inflict the least harm on the Iranian nation,” he was shown saying on IRIB television.

“They will be losers irrespective of whether they issue a (sanctions) resolution or not.”

The Tehran agreement contained several elements of a nuclear fuel swap deal brokered by the IAEA last October in talks involving Iran, France, Russia and the United States but which soon unraveled amid Iranian demands for amendments.

Under the deal, which needs to be accepted by the IAEA, Iran would send 1,200 kg of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) — potential nuclear bomb fuel — to Turkey in return for fuel rods to keep a Tehran medical research reactor running.

But Western critics say that would still leave Iran with enough uranium for one bomb, as it has stockpiled more LEU since the idea was first tentatively agreed last year.

Official news agency IRNA initially reported that Iran had already delivered details of the deal to the IAEA, but Iran’s envoy to the agency told Reuters that it would happen on Monday.

Iran has expressed alarm at the Security Council’s permanent members’ support for the sanctions draft — particularly the positions of China and Russia which it had hoped would resist U.S. pressure on the issue due to their own economic and strategic interests.

“In some instances the explanation of Russian behavior is difficult for the Iranians to grasp and we don’t know how to rationalise the Russian stance toward us,” Ahmadinejad told reporters on the sidelines of the cabinet meeting.

“We expect the friendly and neighborly country to defend us firmly and to stand by the Tehran declaration and not allow pretexts to obstruct positive interaction,” he said, according to Fars news agency.

Opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, who lost to Ahmadinejad in last June’s presidential election, blamed government provocation for the sanctions which, he said, would hurt ordinary Iranians.

“Although we think this situation arose from tactless and adventurous foreign policies, we are against it because it will affect people’s lives,” Mousavi said in comments carried on his website Kaleme.

Western powers fear that Iran is secretly trying to produce nuclear weapons, but Tehran denies this and says it is enriching uranium only to produce fuel for nuclear power stations.

The new, extended sanctions would target Iranian banks and call for inspection of vessels suspected of carrying cargo related to Iran’s nuclear or missile programmes.

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(Additional reporting by Ramin Mostafavi and Hashem Kalantari and by Sylvia Westall in Vienna; writing by Robin Pomeroy; editing by Dominic Evans)

Iran will ditch fuel plan if new sanctions: speaker