The Guardian reports that Iran has threatened to break with the IAEA, the international nuclear watchdog, and a withdrawal from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty if additional sanctions are imposed by the UN, while at the same time offering olive branches to the international community. It has also denied again that it has any plans to make a nuclear weapon, citing religious reasons.
Tehran has made clear that it will not suspend enrichment as the UN security council has demanded, despite two earlier rounds of financial, travel and arms sanctions. A decision on a third round has been put off until September. "If there is another resolution, we will react with whatever we have," the senior official told western journalists. "So far we have answered legally, limiting [UN] inspections, and reducing cooperation with the IAEA within the legal framework.If Iran withdrew from the NPT, presumably that would satisfy neocons like former UN ambassador John Bolton. Old Walrus-face once told reporters that making a nuke was legitimate as long as you weren't an NPT signatory - like Israel, for instance.
"But if there is no legal option left, it is obvious we will be tempted to do illegal things. What is very important to us is our dignity, and we are prepared to act."
Iranian officials made it clear that one option was a formal break with the treaty and a total severance of relations with the IAEA, like North Korea in 2003.
However, said the senior official, unlike North Korea Iran had no intention of building a nuclear bomb, even though he claimed it had now installed enough uranium-enriching centrifuges to make one.
He argued it would make Iran less secure, and pointed out that both the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, and his successor, the current supreme leader, Sayyid Ali Khamenei, had issued a religious fatwa against possessing the bomb."We can exit from the non-proliferation treaty, but we can never exit from a fatwa," he said.
His comments came only hours after the chief negotiator, Ali Larijani, promised that Iran would finally answer all the IAEA's unresolved questions about its nuclear activities. "All the areas and all the questions will be answered. We have no problem with that," he said in an interview in Tehran. Those outstanding issues include an Iranian explanation for how its officials were found to have instructions on how to form enriched uranium into hemispheres, of the sort used in a nuclear bomb.
Mr Larijani laughed off the significance of the documents. He said: "I would find it strange for someone to make a bomb with a couple of pieces of paper. If a country wanted to make a bomb, it could get the information on the internet."
Iran also agreed yesterday to allow UN inspectors to visit a heavy water reactor being built near the central town of Arak. The visit, the first in four months, will be early next week, according to the deal reached in Vienna.
The concessions carry out an agreement in principle with the IAEA this month, and appear to be part of an Iranian effort to fend off a new round of sanctions. In response, debate on those sanctions has been quietly shelved until next month.