Reuters: A senior Iranian official told foreign envoys on Monday the country was prepared for either cooperation or confrontation, ahead of a U.N. vote on imposing further sanctions because of Tehran’s nuclear program.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – A senior Iranian official told foreign envoys on Monday the country was prepared for either cooperation or confrontation, ahead of a U.N. vote on imposing further sanctions because of Tehran’s nuclear program.
Diplomats who attended the meeting in Tehran said Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi showed no sign of Iran bowing to Western pressure to halt sensitive atomic work as he briefed ambassadors about Iran’s nuclear program,
The U.N. Security Council is due this week to discuss wider sanctions against Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, whose product can be used to generate electricity or, more highly enriched, to make atomic bombs.
Araghchi, deputy foreign minister for international and legal affairs, rejected major powers’ demands to halt such work as a precondition for broader talks but said Tehran was ready to cooperate to allay their concerns.
“Right now the Security Council is intending to pass another resolution against Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities, which does not have any legal or legitimate basis,” the ILNA news agency quoted him as saying.
The draft resolution agreed by the Security Council’s five members with veto power — the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia — and Germany was sent to the 15-nation council last Thursday for an anticipated vote later this week.
A follow-up to one adopted in December, it would ban all Iranian arms exports but not imports and freeze financial assets abroad of 28 individuals, groups and companies.
The measure requires Iran to halt uranium enrichment and the processing of nuclear fuel within 60 days after passage or face the possibility of additional sanctions.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to address the Council before members vote.
Araghchi said the Security Council could seek a negotiated solution or opt for confrontation and pass new resolutions, a Foreign Ministry statement quoted him as telling the envoys.
“America is following this way and it will face Iran’s proportionate response,” he said. “Iran is completely ready both for the path of cooperation and that of confrontation.”
Major powers say Iran must halt nuclear enrichment before wider negotiations they say could lead to major trade and diplomatic benefits for the oil-rich country.
But Iranian officials have made clear they will not abandon their nuclear program, saying it is Iran’s national right and aimed solely at producing fuel for power generation.
The United States says it would prefer a negotiated solution to the standoff, but has not ruled out military options. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has threatened U.S. regional interests if attacked.