Iran warns IAEA ahead of key meeting

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran’s top nuclear negotiator issued a blunt warning to the UN atomic watchdog on Tuesday, saying more pressure on the Tehran over its controversial nuclear activities would have “consequences.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is to meet from November 24, with Iran running the risk of being sent to the UN Security Council amid suspicions it is using a nuclear energy drive as a cover for weapons development.

But Ali Larijani, quoted by the ISNA news agency, said a Security Council referral “would have consequences on Iran’s cooperation, and would not be good for Iran’s cooperation.”

“If they put too much pressure on Iran, Iran will be forced to work differently,” he said in the latest of a string of warnings to the IAEA and its 35-nation board of governors.

Iran, which maintains it only wants to make electricity, has already threatened that if its case is sent to New York it would limit access to IAEA inspectors and abandon a freeze on uranium enrichment. Enrichment is a process used to make reactor fuel, but it can also be diverted to make the core of a nuclear bomb.

Larijani also said that if the IAEA “bases its work on legal and technical considerations,” the next report by agency director Mohammad Al Baradei “will be positive” for Tehran.

Iran triggered the latest standoff in August when it effectively broke off negotiations with Britain, France and Germany on a package of incentives for restraining its nuclear plans and resumed uranium conversion activities it had suspended a year ago. Conversion is a precursor to enrichment, and the IAEA board has called on Iran to return to a full freeze. Iran says it is willing to negotiate, but not suspend all of its activities.

An IAEA resolution passed on September 24 also stated that Tehran was in “non-compliance” with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A finding of non-compliance is an automatic trigger for taking the matter to the Security Council, which can impose sanctions, but could be difficult to implement because it has no support from Russia or China, which both have veto power on the council.

Iran says the demand to freeze nuclear works goes beyond the framework of the NPT, which permits such work if for peaceful purposes. Larijani also responded to reports that US intelligence officials have shown IAEA members a stolen Iranian laptop computer containing nuclear weapons designs. “This is a systematic procedure: Every time, before an agency meeting, they try to blow up a crisis,” he told ISNA.

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