TEHRAN (FNA) – Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned of serious consequences if the UN Security Council adopts fresh sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
“We hope that the UN Security Council would not adopt a serious decision before the next meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors,” Mottaki told a press conference here Monday.
“Issuance of a new resolution against Iran lacks rationale and will be faced with Iran’s serious and logical reaction,” he added.
His comments came as the Security Council is due to discuss today a proposed third set of sanctions over Iran’s long-standing refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
The sanctions package was agreed upon last week by foreign ministers of the five veto-wielding permanent members – the US, China, France, Russia and Britain – plus Germany. But diplomats said it did not contain the punitive economic measures Washington had been pushing for.
Russia and China have hardened their opposition to tough sanctions since a US intelligence report last month endorsed the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran is already under two sets of UN sanctions for its refusal to halt enrichment, a right envisaged for all signatories in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Iran insists it has a right to enrichment to make fuel to meet increasing energy needs of its population and denies charges its nuclear program has military aims.
The proposed new measures include an outright travel ban by officials involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs and inspections of shipments to and from Iran if there are suspicions of prohibited goods.
Diplomats said approval of the package, presented to the council’s 10 non-permanent members on Friday, was likely to take several weeks.
Meantime, Iran received the eighth and last consignment of nuclear fuel from Russia on Monday for its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.
Russia delivered the first shipment of uranium fuel rods on Dec. 17.
The whole consignment of 82 tons had been sent to the Bushehr plant, on the Persian Gulf coast in southwest Iran. Tehran has said the plant would start up in mid-2008.
Under a bilateral intergovernmental contract, Russia was set to deliver a total of 82 metric tons of nuclear fuel divided into eight shipments. Deliveries were monitored by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Meantime, Iran has announced that it would go on with its independent and self-reliant uranium enrichment program in a bid to make its own fuel so that it will have secure supplies in the future.
Commenting on the new resolution, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday, “Our position is crystal clear. As we have stated before, from our point of view, Iran’s nuclear case is over, but they have made the same mistake again…an ineffective resolution.”
Russia says the Bushehr power plant is being built under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog.
Tehran has said the Bushehr plant would start up in mid-2008.
Iran says its aim is to build nuclear power plants with 20,000 megawatts capacity to meet growing electricity demand, so it can save its hydrocarbons for export.
Tehran plans to hold tenders for the construction of 19 new nuclear reactors.
Iranian government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham earlier said Tehran expects bilateral relations to gain much from the fuel deliveries.
“Russia and Iran maintain good, developing relations. The deliveries of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power plant are also a good pretext for boosting cooperation between our countries,” he said.
US is at loggerheads with Iran over Tehran’s independent and home-grown nuclear technology. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.
Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and a similar report by the IAEA head in November which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities, Russia and China increased resistance to any further punitive measures by the Security Council.
Tehran says it never worked on atomic weapons and wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.
Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it needed to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it was building in the southwestern town of Darkhovin.
Iran has also pledged to clear up all remaining questions over the program by late February.
Not only many Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.
US President George W. Bush, who finished a tour of the Middle East on Wednesday, has called on his Arab allies to unite against Iran.
But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.
Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the IAEA and US intelligence reports.