Sunday, September 04, 2005

Security Council threats won't work, Iran tells West

Iran said on Sunday threats of U.N. Security Council referral would not persuade it to abandon its nuclear program. READ MORE

U.S. and European Union officials have warned they will push for Iran's nuclear case to be sent to the Security Council -- which could impose sanctions -- if Tehran does not halt all nuclear fuel work and resume negotiations with the EU.

But Iran, which denies harboring secret plans to make atomic bombs, says it has no intention of freezing uranium conversion at its Isfahan plant -- where U.N. seals were broken and work resumed last month.

"Gone is the time when they could deny Iran its rights by threatening it," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi.

"It's our legitimate right to have peaceful nuclear technology and we will not give that up," he told a weekly news conference.

"The Isfahan issue belongs to the past and we are not going to go back on that, we should think of other issues now," he added.

A report by the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog on Friday confirmed Iran had converted several tonnes of raw uranium into a gas at Isfahan which could at a later stage be enriched to make atomic reactor or bomb-grade fuel.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report also said it could not yet conclude that Tehran had no secrete atomic weapons program.

Iran says it has answered almost all of the IAEA's outstanding questions about its nuclear program and that nothing has been uncovered which would justify sending Tehran to the Security Council.

Speaking on state television on Saturday night, the deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Mohammad Saeedi described talk of Security Council referral as "ridiculous."

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who has been engaged in a flurry of diplomacy with non-Western countries ahead of an IAEA meeting later this month, said Tehran would not be bullied.

"The belief that they can weaken the will of this great nation with the baton of the Security Council is mistaken logic and they are only losing their dignity," he told state television.

"They are asking why we do not continue negotiations, but they are the ones who canceled talks," he added.