TEHRAN, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Iran's hardline lawmakers could try to force President Mohammad Khatami's government to follow North Korea's example and quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the official IRNA news agency said on Tuesday.
Leading conservative parliamentarian Hassan Kamran has prepared a bill for submission to parliament that would force the government to set a November deadline for the U.N. nuclear watchdog to take Iran off the agency's agenda, IRNA said.
"The bill obliges the government to pull out of the NPT if the International Atomic Energy Agency does not meet the deadline," IRNA quoted Kamran as saying.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has threatened it will take tough action against Iran at its November meeting if it defies the agency's call to stop uranium enrichment.
The United States accuses Iran of running a secret nuclear weapons programme and has forced the IAEA to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible economic sanctions.
Iran insists its network of nuclear facilities are geared to produce atomic power, not bombs. Iran's Foreign Minister said Iran did not intend to pull out of the NPT: "No that is not our policy," said Kamal Kharazzi when questioned on CNN on Tuesday. "We are sticking to NPT".
The bill by Kamran, a member of parliament's Foreign Affairs and National Security commission, will be submitted to parliament if it is backed by 15 out of 290 lawmakers.
Kamran said he was seeking special triple-urgency status for the bill. If accepted by two-thirds of lawmakers, parliament would have to discuss it immediately. It would then go to the hardline Guardian Council, a watchdog body, before becoming law.
Some sections of Iran's clerical establishment have called for the country to withdraw from the NPT in return to the IAEA's "hostile stance". But the government has assured the world that it had no intention to end its co-operation with the IAEA.
Kamran said the government would be obliged to end its "voluntarily undertakings" to the IAEA as well if the bill passed into law.
International pressure forced Tehran last year to agree to snap checks of its nuclear sites and to halt the enrichment of uranium, a process that can be used to develop nuclear weapons.
Reformist lawmakers said they were against the bill. "We believe in more co-operation with the IAEA," Nureddin Pirmoazen told Reuters. He added: "But we are in minority in parliament".
Iran's hardline lawmakers want withdrawal from NPT
28 Sep 2004 15:44:58 GMT
By Parisa Hafezi