A controversial Iranian bill, if enacted, could complicate ongoing talks in Vienna between Iran and international negotiators. The talks have until the end of the month to reach a deal on Tehran's nuclear program.
Iranian state media reported that the country's parliament voted overwhelmingly to ban inspections of the country's military bases by investigators from the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Of 213 lawmakers present, 199 voted in favor of a bill, which would also demand the complete lifting of all sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran as part of any final nuclear accord. Only three lawmakers opposed the changes and five abstained, with six not voting, and dozens more absent.
Only "managed access" to be granted
With some lawmakers chanting "Death to the America," Iran's parliament cast votes to ban access to key military and research sites as part of any future deal with world powers over its contested nuclear program. The bill would still first have to be ratified by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog in Iran before becoming law, but appears to represent widespread popular attitudes toward the contentious issue.
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani read the bill aloud in a session broadcast live on state radio. It stated in part that the IAEA, within the framework of a safeguard agreement, "is allowed to carry out conventional inspections of nuclear sites." However it also concluded that "access to military, security and sensitive non-nuclear sites, as well as documents and scientists, is forbidden."
Iran's nuclear negotiators said they had already agreed to grant United Nations inspectors "managed access" to certain military sites under strict control and specific circumstances. That right would include allowing inspectors to take environmental samples in the vicinity of military sites.
A violation of dignity and sovereignty?
Iran and six world powers - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - had agreed on the outlines of a deal on Iran's nuclear program in April, and had been working towards its completion by the end of June. It is unclear how the latest parliamentary vote in Tehran might affect these plans, which were hinged on Iran curbing its nuclear activities and accepting inspections in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions.
But Iranian officials, including supreme authority Ayatollah Ali Khameni, have strongly been rejecting the idea of Iranian scientists being interviewed, calling this a violation of the country's dignity and sovereignty.
Last week Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had said that he believed in a comprehensive deal on the nuclear program issue. But he added that, for Iran, the priority was a good and lasting deal - and not the observance of deadlines.
Iran insists that it is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
ss/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)