16 June 2010
Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Mahlis, the Iranian parliament, has called on Iran's government to forge ahead with its controversial program to enrich uranium to 20 percent, in spite of the latest round of UN sanctions against the country. "The Iranian parliament demands that the government continue to produce 20-percent enriched uranium and not stop it at all as some countries have not adhered to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and did not provide fuel for the Tehran research reactor," Larijani told the Mahlis.
"The bullying countries must understand that their illogical pressure will be proportionately reciprocated by the level of our uranium enrichment which would depend on our needs," he was quoted as saying on parliament's website.
Lawmakers chanted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) in the assembly as Larijani made his statement on the issue, the Iranian news agency ISNA reported. Uranium enriched to 20 percent level can be used as fuel to power nuclear reactors but if refined to more than 90 percent level it can be used to make the fissile core of an atom bomb.
Larijani, until two years ago Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, also dismissed the new sanctions and warned the West against searching Iranian ships and planes as specified in the latest punitive measures. "I am warning the adventurous America and other countries that in case they are tempted to inspect the cargo of Iranian ships and planes, they should rest assured that we will do the same with their ships in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman," the speaker said.
"This retaliation is part of defending our national interests," he said amid chants of "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!". Around 40 percent of world oil supplies pass through the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
The UN sanctions authorize states to conduct high-sea inspections of vessels believed to be ferrying banned items to or from Iran. They also provide for cargo inspections, either in any port or at sea, if there is reason to suspect a ship is carrying conventional arms or nuclear missile items for Iran. The sanctions resolution obligates states to seize and dispose of any prohibited items that are found in such cargo.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration welcomed plans by the European Union to implement strong measures against Iran. However, it also reaffirmed its commitment to engage Iran in diplomatic talks. “Resolution 1929 [of the UN Security Council] keeps the door open for continued engagement between the P-5+1 [Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany] and Iran, as well as other differences between us. We hope the Security Council’s adoption of this resolution will affect Iran’s strategic calculus and cause the nation to take a more constructive course,” a State Department spokesman said.
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