TEHRAN, Oct 26 (Reuters) New US sanctions could push Tehran to rethink its cooperation with the United Nations atomic watchdog, Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator said today.
Ali Larijani was speaking a day after Washington branded Iran's Revolutionary Guards a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and imposed new sanctions on the country, which it accuses of trying to develop atomic weapons.
Iran denies the charge and has agreed to clear up long-standing suspicions about its nuclear goals with the UN International Atomic Energy Agency. But it has refused to halt sensitive atomic work as demanded by the UN Security Council.
''Other countries support and praise us regarding Iran's cooperation with the agency,'' Larijani said in comments carried by Iran's ISNA news agency after his return from talks with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Rome.
''But America's behaviour shows that it doesn't make any difference whether Iran cooperates with the agency or not. Well, if that is the case, you should expect something else from Iran,'' he said, adding that European states had urged Iran not to respond to the ''bullying behaviour of (some) countries''.
Larijani was replaced as chief nuclear negotiator on Saturday but remains on the Supreme National Security Council, which helps make policy. He attended the Rome talks in that capacity with the new chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili.
''With this behaviour, the Americans are only isolating themselves,'' Jalili said of the sanctions, according to the official IRNA news agency.
The appointment of Jalili, an ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has taken an uncompromising line in the nuclear dispute, was seen by analysts as a move to toughen Iran's position.
The president does not have the final word on policy but the Islamic Republic's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would have had to approve Jalili's appointment, suggesting he supports a harder line, Iranian analysts say.
The UN Security council has imposed two rounds of sanctions. World powers are considering a third set but have agreed to hold off until at least November to see if Iran cooperates with the IAEA and await Solana's report on talks.
REUTERS GT RK2245