Iran rejects IAEA resolution as "political, illogical"

Iran on Sunday threatened to take unspecified punitive measures against three European nations it had been negotiating with after the U.N. nuclear watchdog approved a resolution that put Tehran just one step away from Security Council referral over its nuclear activities.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the resolution by the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency was "political, illegal and illogical," and accused the United States of being behind it.

The resolution passed Saturday could lead to Iran's referral to the U.N. Security Council for violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, unless Tehran eases suspicions about its nuclear activities. Iran insists its nuclear program is designed for generating electricity.

Iranian officials rallied behind their government, urging authorities to end the voluntary suspension of nuclear activities and scale back cooperation with the IAEA.

Mottaki said the resolution proved that Britain, France and Germany, the key three European countries negotiating with Iran, have violated previous agreements.

"The three European countries implemented a planned scenario, already determined by the United States," he said on state-run television.

Mottaki said Iran may take some measures "in the next days" in response to the resolution but did not elaborate.

Tehran had already warned that, if the resolution was approved, it could respond by starting uranium enrichment _ a possible path to nuclear arms _ and by reducing IAEA powers to inspect its activities under the additional agreement, which it has signed but not yet ratified.

"We don't believe in and don't accept extra-legal powers. We are not committed to the additional protocol but are committed to continuing cooperation within the NPT and safeguard regulations," Mottaki said.

In remarks suggesting increasing tension in Tehran-London relations, Mottaki said the rotating presidency of the European Union "is unable to manage the situation" and made decisions under U.S. pressure. Britain holds the current EU presidency.

"The EU3 (three European countries), through rendering this politically motivated, illegal and illogical resolution, removed any final doubts that they are not committed to their obligations under agreements reached with Iran in the past 20 months," Mottaki said.

Mottaki also said Iran is considering taking punitive measures against the European troika.

Diplomats from countries backing the resolution said it set Iran up for possible Security Council referral as early as November, when the board next meets in regular session.

To avoid the referral, diplomats said, Iran is being told to suspend all uranium enrichment activities including uranium conversion, to give up construction of a heavy water nuclear reactor and to give agency experts access to certain research and development locations and documentation.

The resolution also demands that Iran immediately ratify an additional protocol to the NPT that allows more-intrusive inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities by IAEA.

Iran has repeatedly said that the treaty allows it to pursue such activities for peaceful purposes, and that it won't give up the right to enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel.

Parliamentary speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel said parliament won't ratify the additional NPT protocol because it is "against the definite rights of the Iranian nation," state-run radio quoted him as saying.

In a letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, some 180 out of 290 lawmakers called on his government to cancel the suspension of nuclear activities that Iran is now voluntarily adhering to, and scale back cooperation with the IAEA.

Russia, one of the countries that abstained from Saturday's vote, called on Iran on Sunday to cooperate with the agency.

"We expect that Iran will actively cooperate with the IAEA with the purpose of quickly closing all outstanding questions," said a statement from Russia's Foreign Ministry.

The resolution was approved by 22 of 35 board nations, with 12 abstentions and one rejection _ by Venezuela _ rather than the usual consensus. Only twice in the past decade has the IAEA board voted on an issue instead of adopting it by consensus. Both times were on North Korea for leaving the nonproliferation treaty, first in 1993, then in 2003.

The resolution could lead to Iran's referral to the U.N. Security Council for violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, unless Tehran eases suspicions about its nuclear activities.

While the U.N. Security Council could impose sanctions, that is unlikely because of opposition by veto-wielding council members Russia and China.

The United States had applied strong pressure on Russia, China, India and other countries to join in a "unified message" to Iran. China also chose to abstain.

Both Russia and China look to energy-rich Iran as a major trading partner. Russia is building a nuclear reactor in Iran and China relies on oil imports to support its economic growth.

Iran resumed uranium conversion early in August, a step prior to enrichment, but continues to suspend uranium enrichment, the last stage that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons.

As called for by the additional protocol, Iran has been allowing the short-notice, more-intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities by IAEA but has said the protocol must be approved by the Iranian parliament and the Guardian Council, Iran's constitutional watchdog, before turning into a binding law.

The resolution represents a victory for Washington, which had tried for more than two years to enlist board support to haul Iran before the Security Council, AP reported.

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