Top Iran Lawmaker: We Could Leave the NPT

Hardline lawmaker's statement comes after IAEA resolution censuring Tehran over its nuclear program.

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A conservative Iranian legislator warned Saturday that his country may pull out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in response to a resolution by the United Nations nuclear watchdog censuring Tehran over its nuclear program, a move that could seriously undermine world attempts to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons.

Iran's official news agency quoted a hardline political analyst who made the same point, another indication the idea could be gaining steam.

If Iran withdraws from the treaty, its nuclear program would no longer be subject to oversight by the UN nuclear agency. That in turn would be a significant blow to efforts to ensure that no enriched uranium isdiverted from use as fuel to warhead development.

The lawmaker's threat came a day after the board of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution demanding Tehran immediately stop building its newly revealed nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom and freeze uranium enrichment.

"The parliament, in its first reaction to this illegal and politically-motivated resolution, can consider the issue of withdrawing from NPT," Karamirad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency, referring to the treaty.

"The parliament ... can [also] block the entry of IAEA inspectors to the country," he said.

Karamirad, a member of parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said Iran was determined to continue its nuclear activities.

Karamirad does not speak for the government but his statements reflect hardline thinking that the government usually pursues.

Iranian lawmakers threatened to pull the country out of the nonproliferation treaty in 2006, during another time of increased pressure by the UN over Tehran's nuclear program. Iran backed down, and the government has said in the past that it has no intention of withdrawing from the treaty.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, also dismissed the IAEA's fresh demands, saying Saturday on state television that "Iran will limit its cooperation with the UN. agency to its treaty obligations and will not cooperate beyond that."

"Our first reaction to this resolution is that they [IAEA] should not expect us to do what we did several times in the past few months when we cooperated beyond our obligations to remove ambiguities," Soltanieh said.

Soltanieh stressed the resolution won't stop Iran from continuing to enrich uranium.

He said the country's nuclear activities will not be interrupted by resolutions from the UN nuclear agency's board, the UN Security Council or even the threat of military strikes against the facilities.

Friday's resolution - and the resulting vote of the IAEA's 35-nation decision-making board - were significant on several counts.

Iranian officials have shrugged off the resolution's approval by 25 members of the 35-nation board, including the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The vote marked a rare measure of unity from the six world powers on Iran.

Moscow and Beijing have traditionally cautioned against efforts to punish Iran for its defiance over its nuclear program, either preventing new Security Council sanctions or watering down their potency.

The IAEA resolution criticized Iran for defying a UN Security Council ban on uranium enrichment - the source of both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of warheads.

It also censured Iran for secretly building a uranium enrichment facility, known as Fordo, and demanded that it immediately suspend further construction.

The resolution noted that IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei cannot confirm that Tehran's nuclear program is exclusively geared toward peaceful uses, and expressed serious concern that Iranian stonewalling of an IAEA probe means the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program cannot be excluded.

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