Iran constitutional watchdog approves uranium enrichment bill

Iran constitutional watchdog approves uranium enrichment bill TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran’s constitutional watchdog on Saturday approved a bill to resume uranium enrichment and end snap U.N. checks of its nuclear sites if Tehran is referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

Iran’s parliament created the law last month, when Tehran feared governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) might refer the case to the Security Council in a bid to compel Tehran to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

"The Guardian Council did not find the plan to oblige government to suspend voluntary measures contradictory to the constitution or Islamic law if Iran were sent to the Security Council," a bulletin from state news agency IRNA read.

All parliamentary legislation must be approved by the Guardian Council, composed of six clerics and six lawyers.

The IAEA board of governors at a subsequent November meeting chose to give a Russian compromise proposal a chance rather than refer Iran to the Security Council.

At the time of the meeting Iran risked being sent to the Security Council for failing to convince the world its nuclear programme was not a front for developing atomic weapons.

Iran said earlier this week that talks with EU states on what it says are civilian nuclear plans would begin within days.

Those talks had broken down in August after Tehran resumed processing uranium, a precursor to uranium enrichment. Enriched uranium can be used to make nuclear bombs. Iran insists it will only enrich its uranium to the level needed for power stations.

But many countries have said Tehran can only guarantee this by conducting the work abroad.

The latest round of talks might focus on a Russian proposal under which Tehran would continue some uranium conversion work in Iran but transfer the critical enrichment stage to Russia.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani has said Russia has not yet delivered any "official proposal".

Iran’s president has already confirmed his government will implement parliament’s legislation should Iran’s case be referred to the Security Council in future.