Iranian Lawmakers Move to Block Nuclear Inspections if Sanctioned by U.N.

Iranian parliament on Tuesday took the first step toward requiring the government to block international inspection of Iran's nuclear facilities if the United Nations Security Council imposes sanctions, a legislator said.

Parliament's most powerful committee approved the outline of a bill under which "the Iranian government is obliged to suspend all inspections by the IAEA inspectors to its nuclear facilities if the U.N Security Council imposes restrictions on the country," Kazem Jalali, a legislator and spokesman of the Foreign Policy and National Security Committee of the said.

If parliament approves the bill, it returns to the committee for a debate on its details. It also must be ratified by the Guardian Council, a hard-line constitutional watchdog before it takes effect and the government can prevent the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, from inspecting Iranian facilities.

Last week, U.N Secretary-General Kofi Annan failed to convince Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, two days after Iran failed to meet a U.N. deadline, paving the way to possible sanctions against the Islamic republic, which the West fears is seeking to develop atomic weapons. Iran has said its nuclear program is geared toward generating electricity.

During his visit to Tehran, Annan met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who told him that Iran favored talks over its nuclear program but would not halt uranium enrichment before entering negotiations as demanded by the West.

Iran's unyielding stance appears to be based on the calculation that Russia and China, both veto-wielding Security Council members who have major commercial ties with Iran, will oppose sanctions.