- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2008

TEHRAN - Iran’s new parliament speaker warned yesterday that Tehran could impose new limits on its cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog after a critical report from the agency.

Ali Larijani, formerly the country’s top nuclear negotiator, was overwhelmingly elected parliament speaker yesterday. Moments later, he told parliament a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is “deplorable.”

The unusually strongly worded report issued Monday said Iran might be withholding information needed to establish whether it tried to make nuclear weapons.

“We recommend them not to clandestinely keep passing Iran’s nuclear dossier between the IAEA and 5-plus-1 group. This parliament won’t allow such deception,” Mr. Larijani told an open session of parliament broadcast live on state-run radio.

He was referring to IAEA reports and permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. The council has imposed three sets of sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt enriching uranium - a process that can be used to generate electricity or nuclear arms.

“Should this behavior continue, parliament … will set new limits on cooperation with the IAEA,” Mr. Larijani said.

His comments drew chants of “God is great” and “Death to America” from the chamber.

The tone of the IAEA report suggesting Tehran continues to stonewall the U.N. nuclear monitor revealed a glimpse of the frustration felt by agency investigators stymied in their attempts to gain full answers to suspicious aspects of Iran’s past nuclear activities.

Iran previously described its cooperation with the agency’s probe as positive, suggesting it was providing information requested by agency officials.

In the past, Iran had extensive voluntary cooperation with the IAEA beyond its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), including allowing IAEA inspectors to visit its military sites as a goodwill gesture to build trust.

But Tehran ended all voluntary cooperation with the IAEA, including allowing snap inspections of its nuclear facilities, in February 2006 after being reported to the U.N. Security Council.

Ever since, Iran has limited its cooperation to only its obligations under the NPT. The treaty does not require Iran to allow short-notice intrusive inspections of its facilities.

Mr. Larijani didn’t specify what measures parliament will take, but it could include further scaling back cooperation by not responding to questions originating from Western intelligence agencies.