Tehran: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refused again on 16 March to stop sensitive nuclear work and prepared to confront the UN Security Council face to face over a proposal for wider sanctions against Iran.
“The Iranian nation possesses the nuclear fuel cycle and will not go back on that,” he told a rally in central Yazd province, cited by the semi-official Fars news agency.
“Don’t think you can block the Iranian nation’s pathway with these sittings and meetings,” Ahmadinejad told world powers, which fear Iran’s nuclear programme could be diverted towards weapons development.
“The Iranian nation is moving speedily on the path to progress, and the enemies’ pressures and threats do not affect the nation’s will,” state new agency IRNA quoted him as saying.
On 15 March, six major world powers agreed on a package of new UN sanctions against Iran for its repeated refusal to suspend uranium enrichment - a process that can be used to make nuclear fuel as well as atomic weapons.
Their ambassadors reached a deal on a new sanctions resolution that was submitted to the Security Council’s 10 non-permanent members ahead of a vote expected next week.
That set the stage for a dramatic confrontation with Ahmadinejad, who has formally asked to attend the council meeting, even though he said the world body was illegitimate.
“Should the American government issue a visa, I will definitely participate in the Security Council meeting and defend Iran’s nuclear rights,” Ahmadinejad told Fars.
“I don’t regard a probable consensus among the 5+1 as an obstacle to my trip and I insist on my presence at the Security Council,” he said.
As a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran says it has a right to uranium enrichment, insisting its nuclear programme is aimed at peaceful energy ends.
Under the provisions of the UN Charter, a country that is not a member of the council is entitled to attend council deliberations that directly concern it and to speak, but without the right to vote.
The compromise text appeared after 10 days of negotiations by the council’s five veto-wielding permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US -- plus Germany.
The agreement virtually ensures that measures to broaden existing sanctions and impose some new ones will be approved by the 15-member council when the draft is put to a vote.
“It’s a good, balanced, incremental step,” acting US ambassador Alejandro Wolff said. In Washington, the White House said US President George W. Bush hoped for a vote soon.
The draft builds on sanctions imposed by the Security Council in December after Tehran ignored repeated UN demands to freeze uranium enrichment.
Those measures included a ban on the sale of nuclear and ballistic missile-related materials to the Islamic republic and a freeze on financial assets of Iranians involved in atomic and ballistic missile work.
The new resolution would bar Iran from exporting arms and restrict the sale or transfer to Tehran of equipment including battle tanks, combat aircraft, attack helicopters and missiles.
It calls for a voluntary travel ban on additional officials and companies involved in Iran’s “proliferation-sensitive” nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
It also urges voluntary restrictions on “new commitments for grants, financial assistance and concessional loans to Iran” as well as extending an assets freeze to additional entities and individuals linked to Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes.