Iran: Nuclear debate bad for security


Published: Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 7:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 7:29 p.m.

TEHRAN, Iran - Iranian officials said Saturday that U.N. Security Council debates on new sanctions over the country's nuclear program would be illegal and fresh sanctions would undermine global security.

A U.S. push for a third round of sanctions against Iran is an "exercise in futility," said government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham.

Britain and France delayed a Security Council vote until Monday to try to get more support for the resolution on new sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment.

In a television interview, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that a new round of sanctions would prove that the criticism of Iran's nuclear program is politically motivated.

"We said from the beginning that it was a political pretext not a legal and technical issue," he said.

Iran says a report released by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency last week has vindicated Iran's nuclear program and left no justification for any Security Council sanctions.

The 11-page report by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei last week said all major issues surrounding Iran's nuclear activities had been fully resolved or are "no longer outstanding at this stage."

The U.S., however, said the report strengthens the case for additional sanctions because it also says Iran failed to heed Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment.

Iran insists its enrichment activities are intended only for peaceful civilian purposes, but the U.S., the European Union and others suspect its real aim is to produce atomic weapons.

The draft Security Council resolution would expand travel restrictions and the freezing of assets to more Iranian officials linked to the nuclear effort. It also would ban trade with Iran in goods which have both civilian and military uses and introduce financial monitoring on two banks with suspected links to proliferation activities.

The resolution also would authorize inspections of shipments to and from Iran that are suspected of carrying prohibited goods.

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