New York Times: By an overwhelming vote, Parliament passed a bill on Wednesday that could limit Irans cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations monitor. The New York Times
By NAZILA FATHI
Published: December 28, 2006
TEHRAN, Dec. 27 By an overwhelming vote, Parliament passed a bill on Wednesday that could limit Irans cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations monitor.
The measure was a response to the resolution passed Saturday by the Security Council, which imposed trade sanctions on goods and technology related to Irans uranium enrichment and ballistic missile programs.
The Councils resolution is aimed at curbing those programs, which the United States and Europe contend are intended to make Iran a nuclear weapons state. Iran has repeatedly asserted that its development activities are for nuclear energy, not weapons.
The final draft of the bill in Parliament, approved after two days of debate, asserts that the government should revise its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency based on the interests of Iran and its people. The vote was 161 to 15, with 15 abstentions.
It is unclear what revise its cooperation means. But the measure was considered by some moderate members of Parliament to be less severe than earlier versions proposed by conservative members, who had wanted Iran to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and ban all inspectors. The United Nations agency polices adherence to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denounced the Security Council sanctions as a superficial action, is expected to sign the bill.
Although Parliament is dominated by conservatives, there has been a debate among lawmakers about the countrys nuclear policy under President Ahmadinejad, who has asserted that nuclear development is Irans inalienable right.
Some minority reformists believe his policy is doing more harm than good by isolating Iran economically.
One reformist lawmaker, Nouredin Pirmoazen, said in a debate on the bill, The best solution is to establish a bridge with other countries to reduce the tension.
Others said the bill could give the government a free hand to decide how to continue its relationship with the atomic energy agency. Alaedin Boroujerdi, the head of the foreign policy and national security commission, told journalists that the bills vague language meant the government can do anything based on what it recognizes is for the countrys interests.
In a gesture that suggested that religious authorities are united behind the bill, the Guardian Council of Islamic clerics immediately approved it, a step that is required for any bill to become law. The Guardian Council has rarely approved a bill so swiftly.
Irans chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, appointed a committee on Wednesday to examine how the country should revise its relations with the atomic energy agency. In a news conference later, Mr. Larijani said the Security Council resolution was aimed at humiliating Iran. But he also said Iran wanted to continue its nuclear program based on international regulations.