Iran Dismisses Fresh UN Sanctions as Illegal

A02789043.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iran on Saturday branded as illegal a new Security Council resolution likely to be adopted imposing a third set of United Nations sanctions against Tehran because of its nuclear progress.

“Reviewing Iran’s case in the UN Security Council is illegal. It is like beating the air,” government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said.

On Friday the Security Council put the finishing touches to a draft resolution imposing further sanctions over Tehran’s refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

The world body is expected to vote on the resolution on Monday.

The West alleges – without presenting any corroborative document or evidence to substantiate its allegations – that the knowhow gained from uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities could give Iran the capability to make nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by Tehran.

Iran insists its nuclear case is closed, referring to last month’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which said it had made “quite good progress” in its four-year probe into Iran’s nuclear program.

As a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has a right to enrich uranium to make nuclear fuel to meet the growing energy needs of its population.

The country’s first Russian-built atomic power plant is slated to go on line in few months.

“Enmity exits but our nation is not afraid of this and will not trade its independence at any price,” Elham said, reaffirming Iran’s continued progress in the field of nuclear science.

He also hit out at Iran’s arch foe Israel, calling for UN action against a “regime which is contaminated by atomic weapons and warheads and admits to it too.”

Israel, which has the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, has pushed for stepped-up international pressure on Iran.

“The Security Council had better take up the crucial issue of the Zionist regime which is the only threat to world peace and security,” Elham said.

The UN vote was delayed until Monday due to strong reservations by several council members, diplomats said as Britain, France and Germany engaged in last-minute talks to try to win over four non-permanent members of the Security Council.

Vietnam, South Africa, Indonesia and Libya see fresh sanctions as counter-productive and worry they might prompt Iran to stop cooperating with the IAEA.

They note that the IAEA report spoke of progress in Iran’s efforts to come clean on past nuclear activities.

China, Iran’s major trading partner, said on Thursday that the new sanctions should not undermine trade. A Chinese firm was reportedly preparing to sign a 16-billion-dollar energy deal with Tehran.

The latest sanctions are marginally tougher than those imposed in two previous resolutions adopted in December 2006 and March 2007.

The current draft includes an outright ban on travel by officials involved in Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs, and inspections of shipments to and from Iran if there are suspicions of prohibited goods.

Diplomats say the European co-sponsors of the resolution are not optimistic that the third one will have the support of all 15 council members.

The final version of the text had few changes from the previous version and stressed the key role of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. This was something all four skeptics had wanted.

It also includes language dealing with South Africa’s concerns about a paragraph requiring states to search air and sea vessels with dubious cargo.

It says searches must comply with international sea and aviation treaties and laws.

Diplomats said it was unclear if the amendments would be enough to satisfy Vietnam and South Africa.

It was unclear if the recent meeting had helped persuade the South Africans to back the resolution, which is co-sponsored by Germany, France and Britain, they said.

Libya’s ambassador, Giadalla Ettalhi, indicated on Monday that he would probably vote against the resolution.

Indonesia’s envoy says he is not convinced more sanctions is a good idea.

On Friday, Iran promised it would not “retreat from its stance under any circumstances”.

“The Iranian nation will have the final victory in the nuclear arena,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a military gathering in Tehran. “No power will be able to obstruct the movement of the Iranian nation.”

The president had previously said no amount of UN sanctions would deter Iran from a peaceful program aimed at mastering technology to make electricity.

The IAEA report stated that suspicions about most past Iranian nuclear activities had eased or been laid to rest – a point stressed by the Libyan and Indonesian envoys.

South Africa said on Thursday that the IAEA report showed “increasing confidence” that Iran did not intend to use its nuclear program for military purposes.

In a conference call with reporters in Pretoria, South Africa’s ambassador to the IAEA said the agency’s report last week showed that Iran was cooperating on the matter and did not appear to have militarized its nuclear program.

“There is increasing confidence in the Iranian (enrichment) program,” Abdul Minty said in a call from Oslo. “They (IAEA) have not found a single item that has been lost or diverted to military operations.”

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