Iran to revise ties with nuclear agency

161 out of 203 legislators vote in favor of bill to renew relations with IAEA.

iran nuke vote 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
iran nuke vote 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Iran's parliament voted Wednesday to urge the government to "revise" ties with the UN nuclear agency in a move seen as likely to reduce the country's cooperation with the international atomic authority. "Some 161 out of 203 present legislators voted in favor of the bill," parliamentary speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel said in a session broadcast live on state radio. The bill said that the government was "obliged to accelerate the country's peaceful nuclear program and revise in its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency based on national interests." The government supported the bill, with Deputy Foreign Minister Hamid Reza Asefi urging legislators to support it. "This is a very helpful proposal. I ask legislators to vote for it," Asefi said. Speaker Haddad Adel said before the vote that the bill would not bind the government to a particular course of action. "The bill gives a free hand to the government to decide on a range of reactions - from leaving the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to remaining in the International Atomic Energy Agency and negotiating. We trust the government," Haddad Adel said. Some legislators pushed for a bill that took a more aggressive line against the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, which they accused of being dominated by the United States. "The draft is not appropriate to the United States' animosity to Iran," said legislator Hassan Kamran. "This is a weak draft. It should be stronger." But other legislators said the bill should be thrown out. "There is no need for the bill. We should lessen tensions," said legislator Noureddin Pirmoazzen. For the bill to become law, it must be approved by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog controlled by hard-line clerics. The nuclear program is supported by all political factions in Iran as it is seen as a symbol of the country's technological progress. The opposition to Wednesday's vote shows there are those who believe the authorities are pursuing a policy that is unnecessarily confrontational. The bill will take effect 15 days after it is signed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has ardently championed the nuclear program. The United States and some allies accuse Iran of using a civilian nuclear program as a cover for developing a nuclear bomb. Iran denies this, saying its program is strictly for generating electricity from nuclear fuel.