Iran may put off nuke inspections

Terming the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution to refer Iran's nuclear issue to the UN Security Council as "illegal", Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said Tehran may halt spot checks of its nuclear facilities, reports Mehr News Agency.

The IAEA board of governors in Vienna passed a resolution on Saturday, requiring Tehran to suspend its nuclear fuel cycle activities. Of the 35 members, 22 voted for the resolution, including India, with Russia and China abstaining and Venezuela cast the "no" vote.

The demand runs counter to Iran's rights as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Mehr said.

Lawmakers called on the government Sunday to resume uranium enrichment activities.

"It was an unfair resolution. We urge the government to cancel the voluntary suspension of Iran's peaceful nuclear activities phase by phase," said a statement signed by some 180 deputies, reports India Times.

European diplomats said Iran had until the IAEA's next meeting to respond positively. But the EU has ruled out resuming negotiations while Iran still produces uranium hexafluoride at its plant in Isfahan. Tehran resumed production at the plant in August, as talks with the EU broke down, but it has maintained a freeze on uranium enrichment itself.

"Both the fact of the resolution and the scale of the vote in its favour are very important if we are to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons capability," said Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary, who spearheaded the EU effort. "My European colleagues and I have listened carefully to the concerns of our international partners that we should allow more time for negotiations. That is why we agreed that a report to the Security Council would not be made immediately."

Iranian officials suggested Tehran would reply within days, but there were no signs of a conciliatory response. Iran circulated in Vienna an unsigned letter threatening to respond to any referral vote by resuming uranium enrichment and ending co-operation with the IAEA under the Additional Protocol, informs Financial Times.

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