Prague, 3 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- In his first reaction to Tehran's nuclear deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran's supreme leader has approved of Iran's pledge to fully cooperate but says the country reserves the right to withdraw.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all matters related to the Islamic Republic, emphasized that Iran has not surrendered by agreeing to the deal. At a gathering of top government officials yesterday, Khamenei said: "There was no surrender in it. What happened was right and well-managed," in order, he said, to foil a plot by the U.S. and Israel.
Iran agreed to suspend its uranium-enrichment program, sign an Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and fully cooperate with surprise IAEA inspections following a visit by the foreign ministers of France, Britain, and Germany last month.
Khamenei said the agreement is a peaceful solution that allows Iran to continue its nuclear activity. "It's a peaceful way to keep our nuclear technology. We do not have the option of giving up this technology for any price," he said.
The agreement was sharply criticized by some conservative supporters of Khamenei. They say the agreement undermines Iran's national interests.
Khamenei warned yesterday that if Iran's national interests are jeopardized, Tehran will stop its cooperation with the IAEA. "Anytime a move we have done ourselves reaches the point where our national interests and the regime's values are tarnished, we will cut off this process," he said. The listening crowd responded by chanting "Allah Akbar" in approval.
However, Khamenei also cautioned against protests to the nuclear deal and called for unity. Khamenei said that the deal was the right thing to do and should not create divisions. Khamenei noted the final decision about signing the Additional Protocol rests with Iran's parliament.
The Additional Protocol will allow UN inspectors unlimited access to Iran's nuclear installations. Tehran committed itself to cooperate with the IAEA in accordance with the protocol in advance of its ratification.
Parliament speaker Mehdi Karubbi predicted last week that the government bill on adhering to the additional protocol would be ratified by parliament. No date for ratification has yet been set.