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Iran Prez orders end to tough IAEA nuke checks

Iran insists that it only wants to generate electricity, and argues fuel cycle work is a right enshrined by the NPT.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2006 10:48 IST

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered an end to tough International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of his country's nuclear programme on Sunday.

In retaliation over the reporting of Iran's disputed atomic drive to the UN Security Council, he also called for "preparations" to kick-start ultra-sensitive uranium enrichment work, the focus of fears that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons.

"As of Sunday, the voluntary application of the additional protocol and all measures beyond it will cease," Ahmadinejad wrote in a letter to the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation.

The additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed by Iran's former reformist government but never ratified by the hardline parliament. It gives the IAEA stronger inspection powers and is seen as crucial to efforts to establish the nature of the Islamic republic's nuclear activities.

Ahmadinejad also said that it was "necessary to take action to implement" a law passed by the Parliament, which also called for a resumption of all nuclear activities that had been suspended as part of deals with Britain, France and Germany.

But the President appeared to stop short of ordering an immediate resumption of uranium enrichment, a process that makes reactor fuel but which can also be extended to make the fissile core of a nuclear bomb.

"The activities of research and development and the preparation for the use of nuclear fuel technology for peaceful purposes must be seriously and concertedly put into action," Ahmadinejad wrote in the letter.

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Vice President Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, told in an interview that he would "take the necessary measures to carry out the President's order" on Sunday morning.

But while vowing retaliation, he also asserted Iran was willing to negotiate.

"We have neither left nor will we leave the NPT. We are ready to negotiate with every country with the exception of Israel and which recognises our right," he said.

Recent Iranian offers for talks have been rejected in the West, which first wants Iran to return to a suspension of its nuclear fuel work.

"Even though there is an unjust resolution, we are ready to negotiate with the Europeans," Aghazadeh added.

Ahmadinejad also condemned the resolution, passed earlier Saturday by the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors.

"The board of governors, under the influence of certain countries and without any international legal or judicial justification, adopted a resolution which does not take into account Iran's extensive cooperation and which violates the national rights of Iran," the President wrote.

Iran insists that it only wants to generate electricity, and argues fuel cycle work is a right enshrined by the NPT.