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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iran Remains Cooperative But Cautious

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Tehran would end cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog if further demands undermined Iran's national interests, state television said on Monday.

It was the first time Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, had aired his views on Iran's deal, struck with three European foreign ministers, to suspend uranium enrichment and sign up to snap nuclear checks.

"If we reach the point that Iran's national interests and values are threatened, we will not hesitate to stop our cooperation," he said. "Anyone who ever tries to challenge Iran's peaceful nuclear program will be slapped in the face."

Iran strongly denies U.S. charges that its nuclear program is a smoke screen for developing atomic weapons.

Washington said Monday that it wanted "decisive action aimed at ensuring full Iranian compliance with its safeguards obligations" when International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei presents his report on Iran this month.

But a Western diplomat said in Vienna it was almost inconceivable that Iran would end cooperation with the IAEA, as a number of hard-line Iranian officials have threatened.

"They are not so stupid," said the diplomat.

If Iran were to end its cooperation with the agency, the diplomat said the IAEA board would not hesitate to report this to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions.

The diplomat said Iran would probably escape being reported to the Security Council at the IAEA's governing board meeting in November, despite repeated failures to inform the agency about its past nuclear activities and facilities.

Khamenei said Iran had not bowed to pressure in striking a deal with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany who wanted proof that Tehran was not seeking nuclear weapons.

"Iran made a correct and wise decision and it does not mean surrender. It neutralized the American and Zionist plot," he said in a speech to senior officials.

Some Iranian hard-liners have criticized the deal to open up Iran's nuclear installations to snap checks, which they view as a concession to foreign pressure.

But Khamenei said Iran's interests had not yet been harmed.

"When I feel that a step has been taken against the interests of the system, I will end cooperation," he said.

Iran last month handed over what it called a "comprehensive and transparent" declaration of its nuclear program to the IAEA. ElBaradei said Sunday the agency was in the process of verifying the declaration.