Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Sunday, 29 November 2009

Iran MPs urge reduced ties with UN nuclear watchdog

Site of uranium enrichment plant near Qom, Iran
The Qom development is Iran's second uranium enrichment facility

The Iranian parliament has urged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government to reduce co-operation with the UN nuclear watchdog.

The move comes two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rebuked Iran for covering up a uranium enrichment plant.

The existence of the plant, near the town of Qom, emerged in September.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy purposes, but the US says it is seeking nuclear weapons.

The disclosure deepened Western fears about the country's nuclear ambitions.

The IAEA resolution rebuking Iran was passed with rare Russian and Chinese backing. Only Cuba, Venezuela and Malaysia voted against it.

The Iranian nation doubtlessly knows that legally its nuclear file has no flaws
Iranian MPs' statement

The BBC's Tehran correspondent, Jon Leyne, says it is no surprise to see more defiance from Iran after the latest criticism of its nuclear programme.

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said the resolution showed the US and other powers were engaged "outdated games" and searching for a "chance for haggling".

Mr Larijani, who was previously Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, said: "Do not make the parliament and the Iranian nation choose another path and seriously decrease co-operation with the IAEA."

Iranian state television said 226 lawmakers out of the 290 in the parliament had signed a letter instructing the government to draw up "a quick plan to reduce the level of co-operation with the IAEA and submit it".

'Double standards'

Mr Ahmedinejad's government has so far not given a clear response.

But our correspondent says the MPs' move shows once again how the president is under pressure at home not to compromise on the nuclear issue - even if he wanted to.

In the wake of the disputed presidential election his government is increasingly vulnerable to pressure from hardliners inside Iran, our correspondent adds.

In a statement, the lawmakers attacked the IAEA resolution, saying it was "politicised and lacked consensus".

They also demanded that Iran's nuclear work be continued "without any halt".

"We consider the behaviour of the IAEA to be that of double standards and political. We want it to give up this double standard which has tarnished its reputation," the MPs said.

"Iranian MPs know for sure that the political will of some big powers like the United States and Britain are behind this resolution."

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