TEHRAN: Iran said on 25 March it would limit cooperation with the UN’s nuclear watchdog and vowed not to halt its atomic programme “even for one second” following new financial and arms sanctions.
The UN Security Council unanimously approved the sanctions on 25 March for Tehran’s refusal to suspend its programme, but major powers also offered new talks and renewed an economic and technological incentive package offer.
An Iranian government spokesman said Iran would limit its cooperation with the UN watchdog, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, in retaliation.
“Iran will not stop its peaceful and legal nuclear trend even for one second because of such an illegal resolution,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on his web site www.president.ir.
“The Iranian nation will not forget those who backed and those who rejected (the resolution), while adjusting its international relations,” he said without indicating what that adjustment in ties would entail.
The adoption of the UN resolution will affect Iran’s cooperation with the so-called “subsidiary arrangements” with the IAEA, spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said on state television.
A senior Iranian nuclear official told Reuters these arrangements, accepted by Iran in 2002, meant Iran would declare any plans it had to build new atomic-related facilities.
By suspending its cooperation with this agreement, it would inform the IAEA only six months before introducing nuclear material into any new facility, said the official, who asked not to be identified.
The UN resolution goes beyond the nuclear sphere by banning Iranian exports of conventional arms and freezing financial assets abroad of 28 individuals and entities, including state-owned Bank Sepah and the commanders of the Revolutionary Guards. Some of those affected are said to be involved in supporting militant movements abroad.
The UN sanctions will stay in place until Iran halts the enrichment of uranium and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, which can be used to make a bomb or to generate power. Iran has 60 days to comply or face possible new sanctions.
Major powers have previously said negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program could not begin until Tehran halts uranium enrichment.
The new measures are a follow-up to a resolution adopted on 23 December banning trade in sensitive nuclear materials and ballistic missiles, as well as also freezing assets of individuals and institutions associated with atomic programs.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters at an EU summit in Berlin he would contact Ali Larijani, Iran’s main negotiator on nuclear issues, “to see whether we can find a route to negotiations.”
Also in Berlin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the 15 British sailors and marines seized by Iran on Friday were captured in Iraqi waters and that Tehran must understand its action was “unjustified and wrong.”
“They should not be under any doubt at all about how seriously we regard this act, which was unjustified and wrong,” Blair told a news conference.
Britain is seeking access to the 15, whom Iran says were seized in Iranian waters. Iran is considering charging the sailors with illegally entering Iranian waters, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said.
The foreign ministers of countries that drafted the sanctions resolution -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany -- proposed further talks with Iran “to see if a mutually acceptable way can be found to open negotiations,” according to a joint statement read by British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry.
US representative Alejandro Wolff warned that adoption of the resolution sent “a clear and unambiguous message to Iran” that the pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability “will only further isolate Iran and make it less, not more, secure.”
Western diplomats believe the new bans, and those imposed in December, are having an impact on curtailing new investments in Iran but leave the country’s oil industry intact.