TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's hard-line Guardian Council (search) on Saturday approved a law that puts pressure on the government to develop nuclear technology that could be used to build atomic weapons, state run radio reported.
Parliament had passed the bill on May 15 and sent it to the Guardian Council for approval. The council must vet all bills before they become law.
The passing of the law does not force the government to resume uranium enrichment immediately but encourages it to pursue nuclear goals in spite of international pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program.
The law calls on the government to develop a nuclear fuel cycle, which would include resuming the process of enriching uranium — a prospect that has drawn criticism from the United States and Europe (search) because the technology could be used in developing atomic weapons.
Iran suspended enrichment last November under international pressure led by the United States. Iran maintains its program is peaceful and only aimed at generating electricity.
The legislation was viewed as strengthening the government's hand in negotiations with European Union representatives, allowing it to demonstrate domestic pressure to pursue its nuclear program as talks have deadlocked.
France, Britain and Germany, acting on behalf of the 25-nation European Union, want Tehran to abandon its enrichment activities in exchange for economic aid, technical support and backing for Iran's efforts to join the World Trade Organization (search).
The European Union has threatened to take Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if it again starts uranium reprocessing. Tehran says it won't give up its treaty rights to enrichment but is prepared to offer guarantees that its nuclear program won't be diverted to build weapons.