Tehran refuses to bow on N-plans
TEHRAN, Dec 24: Iran vowed on Sunday to start work immediately on
drastically expanding its capacity to enrich uranium, defying the
first ever UN sanctions against the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.
Top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said work would start as early as
late Sunday night on installing 3,000 uranium enriching centrifuges at
a key nuclear plant, hours after the UN Security Council unanimously
adopted a resolution against Iran.
"Our immediate response to the UN Security Council is that, as of
today, we will start the activities at the site of the 3,000
centrifuge machines in Natanz and we will go ahead with full speed,"
"We have said repeatedly that if the West wanted to exploit the UN
Security Council it will not only have no influence but make us more
determined to pursue our nuclear goals even faster," he told the
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a speech in Tehran, dismissed the UN
resolution as just a "scrap of paper" and said the West would have to
learn to live with Iran possessing nuclear technology.
"Whether the West likes it or not, Iran is a nuclear country and it is
in their interests to live alongside Iran," he said according to the
semi-official Fars agency.
Installing 3,000 centrifuges would mark an important step for Iran
towards an industrial scale enrichment of uranium, a process the West
wants the Islamic republic to suspend as it can be used to make both
fuel and nuclear bombs.
So far, Iran has two cascades of 164 centrifuges at the plant in
Natanz in central Iran which it has used to enrich uranium on a
research scale to levels high enough to make nuclear fuel.
Iran has maintained that it wants to have the 3,000 new centrifuges
installed by March, and Ahmadinejad has said the Islamic republic will
be able to celebrate its "nuclearisation" around that time.
"We will accelerate our programme to install the 3,000 centrifuges" in
response to the resolution, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the influential head
of parliament's security and foreign affairs committee, told state radio.
After weeks of diplomatic wrangling, the UN Security Council on
Saturday adopted a resolution which imposes restrictions on Iran's
nuclear industry and ballistic missile programme.
The United States accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons,
charges vehemently denied by Tehran which says it only wants to
provide energy to a growing population.
The resolution warned that if Iran refuses to comply with UN demands
to freeze enrichment, the Council "shall adopt further appropriate
measures under Article 41 of Chapter Seven" of the UN charter, a
reference to non-military sanctions.
Meanwhile, foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini warned
that Iran's cooperation with the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog
could be reduced after the resolution.
"The resolution is contrary to legal principles. Therefore, it should
not be expected that we will continue our work with the International
Atomic Energy Agency at the same level," he said.
"As the time passes, we will inform people about our decisions and it
will be based on our national interest." Hosseini did not specify what
cooperation could be cut, but some Iranian lawmakers have already
warned that Tehran could limit UN inspections of its nuclear sites
after the resolution.
The Iranian parliament agreed to urgently vote on a bill that would
oblige the government to "revise" its cooperation with the UN nuclear
Parliament agreed by an overwhelming majority to put in place a
"procedure of urgency" to debate and vote on the bill, which means it
goes straight to the top of its agenda and will be discussed in the
next few days.
Hosseini also reaffirmed there was no chance Iran would now cede to
Western demands for it to suspend uranium enrichment.
"We do not think that suspension is logical. They have passed
resolutions like this many times before. This is a weak resolution and
we do not think it went through legal procedures."
WARNING: World leaders on Sunday urged Tehran to heed the United
Nations Security Council decision imposing sanctions on Iran's nuclear
and ballistic missiles programmes.
In a warning on Sunday, France said Iran risked "total isolation" over
its defiant decision to expand uranium enrichment in the wake of the
imposition of UN sanctions.
"I can't think for an instant that all the Iranian authorities have
decided on total isolation of their country. I think that, to the
contrary, it would be in their interest to turn towards negotiation,"
Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told France Inter radio.
In its first reaction to the UN Security Council resolution on Iran,
Israeli Prime Minister Ohud Olmert hailed the move.
"Israel and the Israeli government welcome the decision," Olmert told
reporters before heading into a weekly cabinet meeting.
"This is an important decision of the international community. This
decision offers many possibilities that will allow (us) to reach
positive results in order to block the Iranian nuclear programme."
But nuclear-armed and energy-hungry India said on Sunday that Iran had
the right to pursue a nuclear energy programme, and said the crisis
over Tehran's suspect ambitions should be resolved by dialogue.
"Iran has the right to pursue its nuclear programme for peaceful
civilian use. It has undertaken certain obligations that its nuclear
programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes," the Indian foreign
Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who worked hard in weeks of
diplomatic horse-trading to soften the resolution, expressed hope that
Iran "will respond constructively".
US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns
however pledged to ratchet up the pressure on Iran beyond the resolution.
"We don't think this resolution is enough in itself. We want the
international community to take further action ... We would like to
see countries stop doing business as usual with Iran," the US diplomat
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier the sanctions were "a
significant step and a significant signal, since Iran has not followed
through on its obligations and commitments to the international
community," according to her spokesman.
Britain's UN envoy Emyr Jones Parry, a resolution sponsor, said: "The
choice is in Tehran. We set up the choice, we set up the legal
requirement, and it's now for Iran to comply."
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso welcomed the unanimous approval of
the UN resolution, but added that Japan "strongly hopes for a peaceful
resolution of the issue through dialogue."AFP
Sanctions won't hurt ties with Iran: FO
ISLAMABAD, Dec 24: Pakistan has made it clear that the UN Security
Council resolution slapping sanctions on Iran would not affect
Tehran-Islamabad economic ties. Islamabad also stressed the need for a
negotiated settlement of the issue.
"It will have no impact on Iran-Pakistan economic relations because we
do not have any transactions with Iran in the nuclear sector," Foreign
Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told Dawn on Sunday when asked if the
sanctions would have any bearing on the bilateral relations.
"Our economic ties with Iran will continue," she categorically stated.
The spokesperson ruled out the possibility of the sanctions affecting
the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project.
When asked about Pakistan's stand on the resolution adopted by the
UNSC against Iran, Ms Aslam was non-committal and said: "We are still
examining it." However, she emphatically stated: "We still want to see
a negotiated settlement of the issue."
The spokesperson declined to comment on Iran's reaction to the
sanctions or the US calls for tougher sanctions.
Pakistan, which at one time was itself the most sanctioned country,
has consistently maintained that sanctions are counterproductive.
Apparently the nuclear issue was one of the key topics of discussion
at Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri's meetings with the Iranian
president, his Iranian counterpart and Iranian chief nuclear
negotiator Ali Larijani during his recent visit to Iran.
The Iranian leadership strongly defended Tehran's right to peaceful
use of nuclear technology, making it clear that nothing could deter
them from pursing it.
The Iranian leadership has generally been appreciative of Pakistan's
political and diplomatic support over the nuclear issue. Pakistan has
been advocating a negotiated and diplomatic settlement of the issue
within the IAEA framework, saying it is strongly opposed to any
coercive measures or the use of force against Iran as it would
endanger regional security and stability.
Pakistan's position has been that all parties should adhere to their
international obligations and their rights should also be respected.
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