Middle East

Iran will revise UN nuclear watchdog ties - state media

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Dushanbe, Iran, on 9 June 2010
Image caption President Ahmadinejad said the new sanctions were fit for the dustbin

Iran's parliament is to reconsider relations with the UN nuclear watchdog, following the latest round of UN sanctions, state media says.

The announcement by National Security and Foreign Policy Committee head Alaeddin Boroujerdi did not specify what action might be taken.

But correspondents say options could include restricting access by UN inspectors to Iranian nuclear sites.

President Ahmadinejad has dismissed the UN sanctions as a "used handkerchief".

Iran insists it wants only atomic energy but a number of Western countries suspect it of trying to build nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, Iran's two main opposition leaders have reportedly called off demonstrations planned for Saturday to mark the first anniversary of last June's disputed presidential election.

In a statement published on pro-reform website sahamnews.com, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi said the decision had been made to protect lives and property.

Watered down

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council voted to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Tehran for failing to halt its nuclear enrichment programme.

The measures were passed after being watered down during negotiations with Russia and China.

Beijing said on Thursday it "highly" valued its relations with the Islamic republic after incurring Tehran's anger by voting for the measures.

It has emerged that the new sanctions will not affect a contract to supply Russian surface-to-air missiles to Iran.

Russia agreed to supply Iran with S-300 systems several years ago but has never delivered the weapons.

The US and Israel are concerned the missiles, designed to counter both aircraft and cruise missiles, might be used to protect Iran's nuclear facilities from possible attack.

Following reports that the S-300 deal would have to be frozen, Russian officials clarified that the missiles were not subject to the new sanctions.

They pointed out that the new UN Security Council resolution affects only "missiles or missile systems as defined for the purpose of the UN Register of Conventional Arms".

The register states that this "does not include ground-to-air missiles".

The existence of a missile "loophole" has been attacked by critics of the Obama administration such as John Bolton, former US envoy to the UN, who told the Washington Times it amounted to "diplomatic malpractice".

Republican Senator John McCain was quoted by Reuters as saying the UN resolution was "a lowest common denominator product".

'Mistake'

The new UN resolution includes measures to prohibit Iran from buying heavy weapons such as missiles and helicopters.

The Security Council voted by 12 votes to two in favour; Brazil and Turkey voted against, while Lebanon abstained.

They argued that the move was counter-productive and endangered a diplomatic solution.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the imposition of the latest sanctions was a "mistake", reports Reuters news agency.

Although the measures were not as tough as the US had wanted, President Barack Obama said they sent an unmistakable message about the determination to stop the spread of nuclear arms.

However, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the UN's resolutions were like a "used handkerchief which should be thrown in the dustbin. They are not capable of hurting Iranians".

BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says the most significant parts of the resolution create a legal basis to restrict the supply of goods that Iran wants for its alleged nuclear missile programmes.

Our correspondent says the measures single out the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who run much of the economy - including the national shipping line, which Western diplomats say is trying to evade sanctions by setting up front companies.

The resolution toughens rules on financial transactions with Iranian banks, and increases the number of Iranian individuals and companies that are targeted by asset freezes and travel bans.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites