[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
LANGUAGES
arabic
persian
pashto
turkish
french
Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Nuclear issue unites Iranian foes
By Sadeq Saba
BBC regional analyst

Iran has confirmed that it will not sign an additional protocol allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency greater and faster access to its nuclear sites.

The statement is likely to cause concern within the European Union, which has been urging the Iranians to approve the protocol unconditionally.

Satellite image of nuclear power reactor in Bushehr, Iran
ElBaradei and the inspectors plan to visit a number of nuclear facilities
Tehran needs to please the EU in order to get trade concessions and try to alleviate American pressures.

But the question of nuclear capability has become a key concern for Iran's leaders, and unites even the warring factions in the government.

Both the reformists and hardliners - who are at loggerheads over so many issues - are enthusiastic supporters of the country's nuclear programme.

It was the pro-reform President, Mohammad Khatami, who proudly announced on national television in February that Iran had become independent in producing fuel for its nuclear power station.

Iranian leaders from both factions hailed the surprise declaration as a huge achievement.

They say Iran's nuclear technology has been developed by its own scientists and they describe it as a source of power and pride for the nation.

Clout

During a recent parliamentary debate on Iran's nuclear programme, pro-reform MPs were more forceful than their hardline colleagues in insisting that Iran should not bow to external pressure and give up its nuclear capabilities.

Iran, of course, insists that its nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful.

But for some Iranians, even those who are opposed to the Islamic government, nuclear arms are a legitimate national aspiration.

They say that the nuclear status of some of Iran's neighbours - such as Pakistan and its arch-enemy, Israel - means it has every right to make such weapons to boost the country's security and bargaining power.

Some circles in the Iranian Government may also believe that if the country possesses nuclear arms, the United States would not be able to exert such significant pressure on the Islamic government.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Michael Voss
"Iran's clerical regime is facing mounting pressure both at home and from abroad"



SEE ALSO:
Iran urged to accept tougher N-checks
16 Jun 03  |  Middle East
Nuclear experts inspect Iran
07 Jun 03  |  Middle East
UN suspects Iran of nuclear breaches
06 Jun 03  |  Middle East
Is Iran next after Iraq?
29 May 03  |  Middle East


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific