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UPDATED: 08:26, December 28, 2006
Iran MPs oblige gov't to be tough
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Iran's parliament passed a bill yesterday obliging the government to "revise" the level of its co-operation with the IAEA nuclear watchdog after the United Nations approved sanctions on Teheran over its atomic programme.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose sanctions on Iran's trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology, in an attempt to stop uranium enrichment work that could produce material that could be used in bombs.

"The government is obliged to revise its co-operation level with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," said the bill, which was read out during a parliament session broadcast live on state radio.

The bill also obliges President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government to "accelerate Iran's nuclear activities," in defiance of the council's calls to halt nuclear enrichment, which the West fears is a cover to build atomic weapons. Iran denies the charge.

The hardline Guardian Council, a watchdog body, swiftly approved the bill. Deputy Parliament Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar said it was the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution that the council approved a bill in 5 minutes.

The bill will take effect 15 days after being signed by the president, who indicated on Sunday that the resolution, which he said was a "piece of torn paper," would alter Iran's relationship with the IAEA.

The bill stopped short of approving demands by some conservative parliamentarians who wanted a tougher line against the IAEA and end its inspections of atomic facilities.

Parliament Speaker Gholamali Haddadadel said the bill gave the government authority to decide if it wanted the nuclear standoff to be resolved through political means in the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"This bill is a warning to the government not to put the fate of Iran totally in the hands of the IAEA and react in proportion with imposed pressures," he said.

"The government's reaction to international pressures could also be pulling out of the NPT," Haddadadel said.

Some analysts disagreed, saying under Iran's system of clerical rule, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the last say on state matters, not the president. "This law does not give any additional power to the government than what it already has... Iran's supreme leader has the final say over the nuclear issue," political analyst Saeed Leylaz said.

Khamenei has previously said Iran would not yield to pressure. He has issued a religious decree, saying that making, stockpiling or using nuclear weapons was against Islamic beliefs, the official IRNA news agency reported in August 2005.

Source: China Daily

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