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Iran: Lawmakers Prepare Bill To Stop IAEA Checks

Parliamentary officials presiding over the 20 November session (Fars) Iranian lawmakers on 20 November approved a bill that obliges the country's government to stop allowing snap UN checks of atomic sites and to resume uranium enrichment if the controversy over Iran's nuclear program is referred is to the UN Security Council. The moves come ahead of a crucial International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board meeting, during which the latest findings regarding Iran's nuclear program and a possible Security Council referral will be discussed.

Prague, 21 November 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The outline of the bill was approved by 183 of the 197 lawmakers present at yesterday's session of the Iranian parliament. Only 10 legislators voted against it.

The bill would oblige the Iranian government to "stop voluntary and non-legally-binding measures and implement its scientific, research, and executive programs" if Iran's nuclear case is referred to the UN Security Council.

The signing of the Additional Protocol of the nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and suspension of uranium-enrichment activities are among the main voluntary measures taken by Iran for confidence building.

The details of the bill are reportedly due to be discussed and finalized by the parliament on 22 November. The bill will still need the approval of the Guardians Council to become law.

Additional Leverage

Observers say the parliament's approval of the bill just four days ahead of the 24 November IAEA board meeting is intended at giving the country's nuclear negotiators leverage.

On 20 November, the rapporteur of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Kazem Jalali, warned against a Security Council referral and said that it will have consequences for the world, the region, and Europe.

Said Mahmoudi, a professor of international law at the University of Stockholm, told RFE/RL that the Iranian parliament is sending a warning to the IAEA not to act against Iran. But he added that the tone is softer than previous threats by the majlis that Iran should revise its membership of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if pressure on Iran continues.

"The MPs have asked for Iran's voluntary steps to be halted but they have called on the government to continue its activities and research under the Non- Proliferation Treaty," Mahmoudi said. "Before there were talks that if Iran's case is referred to the Security Council it should leave the NPT but now it seems that even very conservative politicians believe that Iran should continue its [nuclear] activities within the framework of this treaty. "

'Not Good News'

In reaction to Iran's parliament vote, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said today it was "not good news," but stressed there was still time to consider Iran's case before the IAEA meets in Vienna.

The approval of the bill follows a new round of uranium conversion at the Isfahan facility in central Iran. That round was carried out despite a September IAEA resolution that called on Iran to stop all nuclear-fuel work and warned Tehran of possible referral to the UN Security Council if it fails to alter its nuclear policy.

But Mahmoudi believes there is still not enough ground for sending Iran's case to the UN Security Council for discussion of punitive measures, possibly including sanctions.

"Iran in the last two weeks has done many of the actions that were requested by the IAEA in its September resolution," Mahmoudi said. "It has allowed UN inspectors to come and visit some sites that before it refused by all means to give access to including the Parchin site. They have been also able to talk to some people that [were not accessible] before and they have had access to some documents that they were not able to access before. Therefore I think [the possibility] that Iran's case will be referred to the Security Council is much weaker than two months ago."

No Referral?

Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior fellow for nonproliferation with the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies told RFE/RL last week that despite "Iran's non- compromising mood," it is highly unlikely that the IAEA will report Iran to the UN Security Council.

"It looks to me as though the board will not decide anything new," Fitzpatrick said. "The action they took in September to find Iran in noncompliance will remain. But I don't think the board will be reporting Iran to the Security Council this time because the positions of Russia and China have not changed, they oppose sending the issue to the Security Council at this time."

On 18 November, IAEA head Mohammad el-Baradei presented a report calling on Iran to suspend enrichment related activities and to allow UN inspectors to visit military and research locations such as Lavizan, a military site near Tehran.

The report said Iran had been "more forthcoming" but added, "Iran's full transparency is indispensable and overdue."

Iran's Nuclear Program

Iran's Nuclear Program

THE COMPLETE PICTURE: RFE/RL's complete coverage of controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.