ALI AKBAR DAREINI
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran will keep the option of withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on the table and will seriously consider it if the West intensifies sanctions or refers the case to the U.N. Security Council, a leading lawmaker warned Monday.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi said Iran cannot remain an NPT member while it is punished for exercising its nuclear rights, while offering terms for a deal at the same time -- halting high-quality enrichment in exchange for cancellation of punishing Western sanctions.
"It's not acceptable that Iran respects NPT but the U.S. and the West ignore NPT's Article 6 -- reducing nuclear weapons -- and Article 4 -- right to enrichment," Boroujerdi said, according to the state TV's Al-Alam website.
"Therefore, there is no reason for Iran to remain an NPT member under such circumstances," he said.
Boroujerdi heads the Iranian parliament's security and foreign policy committee.
The 1968 treaty aims to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Signatories commit to allowing international inspections of their nuclear facilities. Article 4 endorses the right of nations to peaceful nuclear development, and Article 6 states the goal of eventual nuclear disarmament. Iran signed the pact in 1968 and ratified it in 1970. Key nuclear powers, like India, Pakistan and Israel, have not signed. India and Pakistan have tested nuclear bombs.
The West fears Iran may be aiming to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran has denied the charges, saying its program is geared toward generating electricity and producing radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.
Boroujerdi said the final decision on pulling out of NPT rests with the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Supreme National Security Council, the body that handles the country's nuclear policy.
The latest round of talks between Iran and a group of six world powers, in Kazakhstan over the weekend, failed to narrow the differences. The six want Iran to stop its highest level uranium enrichment -- 20 percent -- and shut down its underground Fordo enrichment site as confidence-building measures.
In return, and only after confirmation from the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has implemented the measures, the U.S. and European Union would suspend sanctions on gold and precious metals, and the export of petrochemicals. But severe sanctions including a ban on exporting oil and restrictions on banking would remain in place.
Iran said the proposal by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany is "not balanced" and "not proportionate." Iran's income from oil and gas exports has dropped by 45 percent as a result of the sanctions.
Boroujerdi said Iran has the right to enrich uranium even higher than 20 percent, based on its needs.
"They say stop 20 percent enrichment. This is while such level of enrichment and even 20 and 50 percent is authorized on the basis of IAEA rules. The red line is nuclear bomb," Al-Alam quoted him as saying.
Even so, he said Iran will reciprocate proportionately if sanctions are lifted.
"If we are to cooperate in areas such as 20 percent enrichment, sanctions against Iran must definitely be lifted in return," he said.
He rejected closing the underground Fordo facility. "Fordo is to protect our nuclear equipment from the danger of air attacks or missile strikes by the Zionist regime," he said. "No sane person would put its wealth at the disposal of the enemy's target."
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