Iran speaker warns West on nuclear cooperation

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s parliament could move to reduce Tehran’s cooperation level with the U.N. nuclear agency watchdog if the West continues to pressure the Islamic state over its nuclear program, speaker Ali Larijani said on Sunday.

Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani speaks during a news conference in Baghdad November 4, 2009. REUTERS/Saad Shalash

The warning came two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to rebuke Iran for building a uranium enrichment plant in secret.

The Islamic Republic has already denounced Friday’s IAEA resolution, which won rare backing from China and Russia, as “intimidation” which would poison its talks with world powers.

“If the West continues to pressure us, then parliament can review Iran’s cooperation level with the IAEA,” Larijani, an influential conservative, told the assembly.

Parliament has the power to oblige the government to change its cooperation with the IAEA, as it did in 2006 after the Vienna-based agency voted to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

Friday’s resolution by the 35-nation IAEA board was a sign of spreading alarm over Tehran’s failure to dispel fears it has clandestine plans to build nuclear bombs, a charge Iran denies.

It urged Iran to clarify the original purpose of the recently-disclosed Fordow enrichment site, hidden inside a mountain bunker, stop construction and confirm there are no more hidden sites.

But it was far from clear whether the West could now coax Moscow and Beijing to join in tough sanctions against Iran, something they have long prevented at the U.N. Security Council.

Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh on Friday called the resolution a “hasty” step devoid of legal basis, saying Iran would not halt its sensitive nuclear work.

He said Iran would continue to allow basic inspections at its nuclear sites but could stop making “voluntary gestures” of extra cooperation such as when it allowed widened surveillance at its rapidly expanding main enrichment complex at Natanz.

Iran says its atomic energy program is purely for peaceful purposes, aimed at generating electricity.

Reporting by Parisa Hafezi; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Michael Roddy