Influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told worshippers at Friday prayers at Tehran University ... Reuters
TEHRAN - Iran will take the U.N. nuclear watchdog to the international court of justice if it sets a deadline for the Islamic state to commit to a new freeze on uranium enrichment activities, a top Iranian cleric said on Friday.
Influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told worshippers at Friday prayers at Tehran University that Iran would lodge a complaint at the Hague tribunal against the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for acting outside its powers.
"If it sets a deadline to halt some of our nuclear activities we have the right to go to the Hague court," Rafsanjani said.
"Passing such an unjust resolution with a deadline is a violation of the law."
Washington accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear arms under cover of a civilian atomic programme. Iran denies this, saying it only wants to generate electricity.
The United States had been lobbying an IAEA meeting in Vienna to set an Oct. 31 deadline for Iran to halt its enrichment programme or face U.N. Security Council economic sanctions.
But a diplomat said on Thursday that Washington had reached a compromise with France, Britain and Germany with a resolution calling for an immediate halt to the enrichment programme, but not setting a deadline.
The text still has to be approved by most of the 35 nations on the IAEA governing board.
In remarks broadcast live on state radio, Rafsanjani called the debate a "scandal", saying the IAEA was obliged to offer technological assistance to Iran based on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
As a signatory to the NPT, Iran is allowed to enrich uranium -- a process that can be used both for nuclear power plants or atomic weapons.
Rafsanjani, a key adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's most powerful figure, said Iran would not yield to mounting international pressure to abandon its nuclear programme.
"We have never surrendered to pressures and threats," he said.
The IAEA, which has been investigating Iran for two years, says it has uncovered undeclared nuclear activities, but nothing to prove Washington's allegations.