Fri, Oct 20, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Tehran says UN sanctions would doom diplomacy

ARM TWISTING A Security Council resolution calling for sanctions against Iran would wreck all chances of reaching a compromise, Iran's negotiator warned

AP , TEHRAN

Iran warned on Wednesday that a likely UN Security Council resolution for imposing sanctions against Tehran would wreck any possibility for a compromise to resolve the standoff over the country's nuclear program.

France has said a sanctions resolution will likely be circulated at the council by the end of this week.

Support for sanctions is growing among leading members after weeks of talks between the EU and Iran failed to persuade Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment and start broader negotiations over its nuclear ambitions.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, insisted on Wednesday that continuing talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is "still possible."

But he warned that "in the case that a new resolution is passed by the Security Council, we will not be in the current point to resume possible talks."

"Resorting to arm-twisting through the Security Council would be considered a security threat to Iran and will change [Iran's] behavior," he said in an interview with the semi-official news agency Mehr.

Larijani said the West knows that their path would incite regional crisis, but he reiterated that Iran is ready for unconditional talks.

Iran has repeatedly said it would continue enrichment and is not intimidated by the possibility of sanctions.

"Iran will pursue its legitimate right, applying legal and diplomatic means," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali Hosseini said on Wednesday, according to state television.

"Tehran has no doubt of its righteous way in insisting on its right to exploit nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," he added.

Enrichment is a key process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material for a warhead. The US and some in Europe accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran says its program is peaceful, aimed only at generating energy.

Solana, who has led talks with Iran, said he spoke to Larijani on Monday but "the situation hasn't changed," and Iran continues to refuse to suspend its nuclear enrichment program. Solana and Larinani launched the talks in a last bid to find a compromise after Iran ignored an Aug. 31 deadline set by the Security Council to stop uranium enrichment.

EU foreign ministers said after a meeting in Luxemburg on Tuesday that they have no choice but to back diplomatic talks at the UN about sanctions on Iran.

The ministers backed a decision by the UN's five permanent Security Council members -- the US, Russia, China, Britain and France -- and Germany to pursue limited sanctions on Tehran while keeping the door open to future talks.

The six countries offered Iran a package of economic incentives and political rewards in June if it agreed to consider a long-term moratorium on enrichment and commit to a freeze on uranium enrichment before talks to discuss details of their package.

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