An Iranian news agency says Iran has decided to block 38 inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency from entering the country. Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said the 38 names were on a list submitted by the agency and Iran was within its right to reject them. VOA Correspondent Challiss McDonough reports from our Middle East bureau in Cairo.
A senior Iranian lawmaker says Iran has barred 38 inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency from entering the country.
The head of the parliamentary commission on national security and foreign affairs told an Iranian news agency (ISNA) the move is the first step in implementing a new law requiring the government to revise its cooperation level with the IAEA. But he also said Iran will continue its cooperation with the U.N. nuclear agency.
The Iranian parliament passed the law in December, after the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend its uranium-enrichment program.
IAEA inspectors conduct regular examinations of Iran's nuclear facilities.
The rejection of the 38 inspectors comes at a critical time. The European Union called for all countries to implement the U.N. sanctions in full and without delay.
[In Washington, the U.S. State Department deplored what it called Iran's "defiant attitude toward the international community."
Spokesman Sean McCormack said it was another example of what he termed Iran's trying to dictate terms to the international community, and will result in Iran's further isolation.]
But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Sunday that U.N. sanctions would not stop Iran's nuclear program, in his words, even if they issue 10 more such resolutions.
According to the Associated Press, Iran's most senior dissident cleric has publicly criticized President Ahmadinejad for the way he has been pursuing his nuclear goals.
The AP says in a speech on Friday, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri said the president's aggressive approach would only provoke the international community and create problems for Iran.
The U.N. sanctions include a ban on selling sensitive materials or information that could be used in Iran's nuclear and missile programs. The Security Council also froze the assets of 10 Iranian companies and individuals.
The Security Council sanctions resolution was backed by all five of its permanent members -- the United States, Britain, Russia, China, and France.
Europe and the United States believe Iran is secretly trying to build a nuclear bomb. Iran insists that its nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful, and it wants only to produce nuclear energy.