Iran considers withdrawing from Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Monday, July 14, 2003

Iran is weighing a plan to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to prevent international inspections of Teheran's suspected nuclear weapons program.

The spokesman for Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei has urged the ruling clergy to follow the example of North Korea and withdraw from the NPT. The official said the NPT will be used by the United States to provide full access to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to Iranian nuclear facilities.

"The best and reasonable solution for Iran is withdrawing from the NPT," Hossain Shariatmadari, editor of the Kayhan daily and a leading aide to Khamenei, said.

In June, the IAEA said Iran failed to provide sufficient access or information on its nuclear facilities. The agency plans to issue a comprehensive report in September on Iran's nuclear program, Middle East Newsline reported.

Kayhan is regarded as the voice of Khamenei and the ruling clergy. Khamenei is said to have control over Iran's nuclear and other strategic programs.

The editorial written by Shariatmadari came in wake of a visit by IAEA director-general Mohammed El Baradei last week. Iran was said to have rejected El Baradei's request to sign a protocol that would enable greater agency access to Iranian nuclear sites.

"This protocol means any spy can give a fake report to the United States and its allies so they can put their hands on all our secret intelligence," Shariatmadari said.

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