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Iran To Review Ties With Countries Over IAEA Vote

Iranian parliament speaker and former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani (in file photo) said lawmakers will "review Iran's relations with those countries that voted...against us."
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran's parliament has said it will review relations with countries that voted against Iran's nuclear activities at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week.

The IAEA board angered Iran last week by censuring it for covertly building a second uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom, in addition to its main IAEA-monitored one at Natanz. It called for a halt to construction.

The resolution passed by 25 votes to three with six abstentions, smoothed by backing from Russia and China, which have in the past blocked Western attempts to isolate Iran, a trade partner for both.

"Parliament will review Iran's relations with those countries that voted for the recent resolution against us," Ali Larijani, the speaker of parliament, was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

U.S. President Barack Obama's efforts to engage Iran with confidence-building measures have so far been fruitless.

Iran said on November 29 that it would build 10 more uranium-enrichment sites in retaliation for the IAEA vote.

And on December 2 it said it would purify its uranium stockpile to the level needed for a Tehran medical reactor -- in Western eyes a big step towards the highly enriched uranium needed for a nuclear warhead.

Deal Dead?

The statement appeared to sound the death knell for a deal with global powers that would see the bulk of Iran's low-enriched uranium sent abroad for processing into fuel for the medical reactor.

Any expansion in enrichment activity stokes Western fears that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, although Iran says its program is aimed purely at power generation.

Russia, which like China has a veto in the U.N. Security Council, has seemed increasingly prepared to support some tightening of sanctions as a last resort.

But today Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, while declining to answer a question on sanctions, told reporters that Russia had "no information that Iran is working on the creation of a nuclear weapon."

By contrast, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that "Time is running out."

He said it was "pretty clear" Iran was backing out of the nuclear-fuel agreement, and that the deadline for it to respond to international demands was still the end of the year.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists: "We are pursuing two tracks: on the one hand, making Iran offers for a good, common development; but on the other hand, we are also saying if that is not the case -- and our patience is being sorely tested -- then new sanctions must be considered."