- The Washington Times - Monday, February 6, 2006

VIENNA, Austria — Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency to remove surveillance cameras and agency seals from sites and nuclear equipment by the end of next week, the U.N. watchdog agency said yesterday.

Iran’s demands came two days after the IAEA reported Tehran to the U.N. Security Council over its disputed atomic program. The council has the power to impose economic and political sanctions.

In a confidential report to the IAEA’s 35-member board, agency head Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran also announced a sharp reduction in the number and kind of inspections IAEA experts will be allowed, effective immediately.

The report was dated yesterday and made available to the Associated Press.

The moves were expected. Iranian officials had repeatedly warned they would stop honoring the so-called “Additional Protocol” to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty — an agreement giving IAEA inspectors greater authority — if the IAEA board referred their country to the Security Council.

A diplomat close to the Vienna-based IAEA said that Iran also had made good on another threat — formally setting a date for resuming full-scale work on its uranium enrichment program, which can make either fuel or the nuclear core of warheads.

The diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, refused to divulge the date set by Ali Larijani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, in a letter received yesterday by Mr. ElBaradei.

In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was still hopeful that Iran will take confidence-building measures with the IAEA.

“It’s not the end of the road,” Mr. Annan said of the Security Council referral. “I hope that in between, Iran will take steps that will help create an environment and confidence-building measures that will bring the partners back to the negotiating table.”

In his brief report, Mr. ElBaradei cited E. Khalilipour, vice president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as saying: “From the date of this letter, all voluntarily suspended non-legally binding measures including the provisions of the Additional Protocol and even beyond that will be suspended.”

Earlier, Russia’s foreign minister warned against threatening Iran over its nuclear program after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld reportedly agreed with a German interviewer that all options, including a military response, remained on the table.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for talks to continue with Tehran, adding: “I think that at the current stage, it is important not to make guesses about what will happen and even more important not to make threats.”

Mr. Lavrov said the use of force would be possible only if the United Nations consented.

Mr. Rumsfeld, in an interview with the German daily newspaper, Handelsblatt, was asked whether all options, including the military one, were on the table with Iran.

“That’s right,” Mr. Rumsfeld responded, according to Handelsblatt’s print edition yesterday.

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