TEHRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said efforts to toughen United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear development will add a “knot” to the dispute and won’t halt the program.
“Each of these steps is adding one more knot to the knots,” Ahmadinejad said today in a speech in the central city of Yazd that was aired live on state television.
Permanent members of the UN Security Council — the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia and China — along with Germany are discussing the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran after the Islamic Republic ignored a Feb. 21 UN deadline to halt uranium enrichment as part of its nuclear program.
“The Iranian people in all of this country are standing in unity and will defend their rights,” Ahmadinejad said. “You cannot hurt Iranians and will instead only make yourself more isolated and more hated.”
The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of using a nuclear power program to disguise weapons development. Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, denies the charge and says it enriched uranium to produce electricity.
“Don’t believe that the nuclear energy is a political matter, propaganda, or that it belongs to one group,” Ahmadinejad said, directing his comments at Western countries. “Who are you to want to isolate us?”
A UN resolution in December barred Iran from acquiring materials or technology that could be used for nuclear weapons and froze the assets of 12 people and 11 groups, including the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. Further sanctions could include a travel ban on officials from Iran’s government, companies and organizations.