Iran takes another
look at nuclear treaty By Kimia Sanati
TEHRAN - While the world awaits a response
to Resolution 1737 passed by the United Nations
Security Council, some Iranian officials are
defiantly calling for a review of Iran's adherence
to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if
the country is "threatened".
resolution passed unanimously on December 23
imposed a number of sanctions on the country,
requiring it to suspend all uranium-enrichment and
reprocessing activities "without further
delay". In spite of the 60
days given for Iran to act, President Mahmud
Ahmadinejad has vowed not to surrender to pressure
and is telling his countrymen to be ready to
celebrate a "nuclear victory".
of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, Gholamreza
Aghazadeh, said 250 tons of uranium hexafluoride
gas to feed its centrifuges had been produced and
stockpiled in tunnels at a nuclear facility in
Isfahan, Iran's state-run broadcasting company
reported last week. Aghazadeh was also quoted by
Iranian news agencies as saying that quitting the
NPT was still not a matter under consideration.
Four days after the UN resolution, the
Iranian Parliament responded by passing an urgent
bill by an overwhelming majority that obliges the
government to "review its relations" with the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but
made no mention of exiting the NPT.
special committee set up by Iran's National
Security Council is now examining the country's
relations with the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog.
The committee will decide about the access
schedule of IAEA inspectors to the country's
nuclear facilities, Aghazadeh told the press.
IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei is to report
to the UN Security Council soon on whether his
agency will cut down on aid to Iran, including on
items needed for radiation treatment for cancer.
During a two-day visit to China last week,
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani
handed over a letter from Ahmadinejad to President
Hu Jintao, saying that Iran still adhered to the
NPT but that the situation could change if Iran is
threatened. But Hu urged Iran to make a "serious
response" to Resolution 1737, and Chinese
officials stressed negotiations as the best way to
resolve the Iran nuclear issue, the Aftab News
The statement delivered
by Larijani was interpreted by Iran's hardline
Keyhan newspaper as a serious threat to exit the
NPT, which its editor said was like "a breath of
fresh air" in Iranian foreign diplomacy.
"Larijani's statement about exiting the
NPT was accompanied by a number of conditions, but
since the conditions mentioned for staying in NPT
have been practically removed, one can interpret
his statement as a logical prelude to a rational
action, ie, exiting the NPT," wrote Mohammad
Shariatmadari, editor of Keyhan.
leave NPT was due at least two years ago. If we
had left then we wouldn't have faced the present
circumstances. Maybe in that case our nuclear
dossier would have been written differently -
definitely better than it is now," Shariatmadari
added, calling the NPT a practically annulled
A ban on criticism of the
government's nuclear policy imposed by Iran's
Supreme National Security Council has prevented
public debate on the issue. The state-run
broadcasting system has been promoting the
official views, and the fear of being banned has
made the print media abstain from criticism.
"The voice of reason coming from the
opposition, especially in the light of the
considerable success of reformists in recent
elections, is beginning to become more audible as
the crisis is deepening," an observer in Tehran
said, asking not to be named. "Ordinary people,
already having to shoulder the burden of ever
rising prices and unemployment well above 10%, are
also wearied by what at first sounded only too
easy if they backed their statesmen.
"Iranians are often shown in the world
media chanting, 'Nuclear energy is our
unquestionable right.' But doubts seem to be
surfacing about exercising the right at a cost
that may prove too high for the nation, as it
seems to be the case now," he said.
Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), a major
reformist party, issued a statement this week
calling on the system to open up the sphere for
public discussion and to let the people be
informed of the depth and scope of the costs and
benefits of gaining nuclear technology.
Protesting against the "unfair and
hegemonistic" approach of the United States and
other big powers and criticizing the nuclear
policies of the Ahmadinejad government, the IIPF
is demanding a return to the policies followed by
the former nuclear negotiating team under the
"Iranians have other
unquestionable rights that cannot be sacrificed to
'one unquestionable right'," the statement
released by the IIPF says.
A statement by
a group of prominent intellectuals, collectively
known as the "Nationalist-Religious", voiced
similar concern. "Adherence to democracy and
respect for human rights is a precondition to
having our right to possess nuclear energy
realized," the signatories said, adding that the
nation also had a right to welfare, to balanced
development, and not to want war.
has further called for holding talks with "all UN
Security Council members, especially the US", and
refraining from policies that could intensify the
crisis. But the call to negotiate with the US has
greatly angered the ruling hardliners and
A hardline member of
Parliament, Mehdi Kouchakzadeh, reacted to the
statement by claiming the IIPF wanted to instill
fear into the hearts of the people. "They want to
get it into people's minds that they should
surrender to the irrational demands of the UN
Security Council or face military action," he was
quoted by the Alef portal as saying.
Ahmadinejad had himself earlier claimed
that one of the aims of the resolution was
providing an opportunity for "certain people
domestically to scare the nation and create
disunion", to which a former reformist
parliamentarian, Mohammad Kianoushrad, reacted by
saying, "The government better try to reduce the
costs imposed [on the nation] instead of tagging
labels on others."
The observer in Tehran
said: "Neo-cons in the US and Iran must bear in
mind not to drive matters to the point of making
them uncontrollable. The risks involved are too
high for both parties, and nobody will really
benefit from crisis and tension in this turbulent
region. Very unfortunately, the two seem to
complement each other in certain ways, and that
leaves little hope of any reasonable solution, at
least in the present circumstances."