by Mark Pyruz
A day after the board of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution demanding Tehran immediately stop building its newly disclosed nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom and freeze uranium enrichment, Iranian legislators and analysts are now openly questioning the benefits of being a signatory of the NPT, and signaling it may be in the national interest of Iran to withdraw from the nuclear treaty.
If Iran withdraws from the treaty, its nuclear program would no longer be subject to oversight by the U.N. nuclear agency.
"The parliament, in its first reaction to this illegal and politically-motivated resolution, can consider the issue of withdrawing from the NPT," Mohammad Karamirad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency, referring to the treaty. "The parliament ... (also) can block the entry of IAEA inspectors to the country.
Another lawmaker, Hossein Ebrahimi, was quoted by IRNA as saying that Iran's parliament will discuss the IAEA resolution on Sunday and will make a decision on how to react.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate to the U.N. nuclear agency, was also defiant Saturday in the face of the agency's fresh demands, saying in television interview that Iran will limit its cooperation with the U.N. watchdog to its treaty obligations and will not cooperate beyond that.
"Our first reaction to this resolution is that they (the IAEA) should not expect us to do what we did several times in the past few months when we cooperated beyond our obligations to remove ambiguities," Soltanieh said.
He added that the country's nuclear activities will not be interrupted by resolutions from the IAEA, the U.N. Security Council or even the threat of military strikes against the facilities.
Ali Shirzadian, spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said his agency his ready to proceed with its nuclear projects.
"Technically speaking, we are fully prepared to produce fuel required for the Tehran reactor. To begin this we are waiting for the order from top authorities," Shirzadian told the Borna news agency.
The Iranian news agency also quoted political analyst Mahdi Mohammadi as saying that the U.N. agency's resolution was forcing Iran to reconsider its membership in the nonproliferation treaty.
"The attitude of the agency is gradually bringing Iran and the rest of the developing nations to the conclusion that membership in NPT has no benefit but damage and restriction. In this case, the question that will be raised seriously is will continuation of this path serve Iran's national interests?" IRNA quoted him as saying.
From the Iranian perspective, membership in the NPT is not delivering anywhere near the technical assistance it promises to provide, yet at the same time it is being used against Iran as a means of politically motivated coercion. Non-NPT states such as India are “rewarded” with seemingly unbounded nuclear cooperation, and non-NPT Israel has never been put through the political hassles Iran is now enduring. At this point, the Iranians are confronted with the obvious hypocrisy of their situation and are asking themselves:
“Why are we even in the NPT, when all it brings us is pain and no gain?”