Iran's Supreme Leader Urged to Quit Nuclear Treaty

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Iran should withdraw from an international nuclear arms control treaty because of U.S. pressure to give weapons inspectors greater access to Iranian nuclear sites, an aide to the supreme leader said Saturday in a newspaper editorial.

Hossain Shariatmadari, editor of the hard-line Kayhan daily newspaper -- a mouthpiece for Iran's ruling Islamic establishment, also accused the United Nations' atomic agency of being "under the influence and supervision of the United States."

The head of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei (search), visited Iran earlier in the week.

ElBaradei urged Iran to make its atomic program transparent and facilitate unfettered inspections of its nuclear sites, which the United States claims are for producing atomic weapons but Tehran says are used for peaceful purposes, namely to generate electricity.

President Bush has warned Tehran to keep its promise not to develop nuclear weapons or "we will deal with that."

The IAEA chief also urged Iran to sign an additional protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (search) giving his agency's inspectors the right to visit any Iranian nuclear site without prior notice.

Shariatmadari, a close aide of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (search), said the protocol threatened Iran's sovereignty.

"This protocol means any spy can give a fake report to the United States and its allies so they can put their hands on all our secret intelligence,'' he said in his editorial. ``The best and reasonable solution for Iran is withdrawing from the NPT."

Iran has said it will agree to inspections if it is granted access to advanced nuclear technology as a signatory to the nonproliferation treaty and as an IAEA member. Iran accuses Washington of using its influence with other nuclear nations to block the sales of such technology.

In Washington, a leader of the opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran said Shariatmadari's statement "is intended to blackmail the international community and further proves that the ruling clerics are intent on gaining access to nuclear weapons at any cost by dodging or blocking international scrutiny."

"Tehran's approach further proves that the real solution to Iran's nuclear weapons program lies in the regime change through the Iranian people and their resistance movement," said Alireza Jafarzadeh, the group's chief congressional liaison in Washington.

Iran is in the final stages of building its first nuclear power plant, based on Russian technology, outside the southern city of Bushehr. The 1,000-megawatt, light-water reactor reportedly is worth $800 million.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Bush that Russia will not provide fuel for the reactor until Russian officials were certain Iran was not developing nuclear weapons, a senior U.S. official said earlier this month.