Iran Demands Removal of IAEA Cameras, Seals
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Iran has told international monitors to cut back their inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities, and dismantle some of the video monitors and seals on Iranian equipment. This action comes two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency voted to report Iran's nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council.
NPR's Mike Shuster reports from Tehran.
MIKE SHUSTER reporting:
Iran's order came in a letter last night from the nation's atomic energy organization. The letter informed. The IAEA that Iran will no longer maintain the level of voluntary cooperation with the agency it had in the recent past. This means that the dismantling of some video cameras, that were installed at sensitive sites, that kept constant monitoring of Iran's now abandoned nuclear freeze along with seals that verified the freeze.
In response, the IAEA's Director General Mohammed ElBaradei indicated that he would immediately cut back on the number of inspections in Iran. This was retaliation for the IAEA vote to report Iran to the Security Council, says political analyst Nasser Hadian of Tehran University. And he expects Iran will take even more serious steps.
Mr. NASSER HADIAN (Political Analyst, Tehran University): The decision maker in Iran feel like they've been cooperating with the IAEA. Iran may begin industrial-level enrichment in Natanz.
SHUSTER: Iran's National Security Chief Ali Larijani said yesterday, Iran would soon begin uranium enrichment. It has been constructing a facility for this at Natanz, but recent IAEA reports suggests this facility is far from ready to enrich uranium on an industrial scale. There is a pilot project there and that is likely to be the focus of Iran's first attempts at enrichment. Iran will continue minimal cooperation with the IAEA, and maintain its commitments to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Iranian officials have been unusually united in recent days about this issue. But under the surface, there are many disagreements, according to political analysts here. Commentator Saeed Laylaz believes this controversy is part of an ongoing power struggle inside Iran, pitting hardliners whose holdover Iranian society is tenuous against more pragmatic conservatives.
Mr. SAEED LAYLAZ (Political Commentator): Isolation is the best friend of radicalism in everywhere in the world; and especially Iran, because they are trying to have better control over the inside of the country to have hard and harsh diplomacy.
SHUSTER: Layla counts Iran's new President Mahmoud Amadinajan as a hardliner, in contrast, he says to Iran's supreme leader religious leader, Ali Ayatollah Khamenei, who maintains control over Iran's foreign policy.
There is much anxiety here about what may happen next, especially what actions the Security Council may take when it begins consideration of this issue next month. Political analyst Nasser Hadian says economic sanctions would only further strengthen hard-line forces in Iran.
Mr. NASSER HADIAN (Iranian Political Analyst): If somehow U.N. Security Council goes forth sanctions, severe sanctions, then Iran would withdraw from NPT, and would expel all the inspectors, and close down all the TVs and cameras. And there would be basically no monitoring in Iran now.
SHUSTER: Iran's National Security Chief Ali Larijani offered a slight opening in an interview with USA Today. Larijani said Iran would be willing to hold direct talks with the U.S. about its nuclear program. And he identified his counterpart, the U.S. National Security Advisor Steven Hadley, as someone who in Larajani's words, exhibits logical thinking. Larijani also said President Bush makes irrational statements about Iran.
Mike Shuster, NPR News, Tehran.
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