New York Times: Iran vowed yesterday to defy any United Nations Security Council resolution on its nuclear activities on the eve of a major report by atomic inspectors on the status of its nuclear program. The New York Times
By WILLIAM J. BROAD and ELAINE SCIOLINO
Iran vowed yesterday to defy any United Nations Security Council resolution on its nuclear activities on the eve of a major report by atomic inspectors on the status of its nuclear program.
Javad Zarif, the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters in New York that Iran would consider illegitimate any Council resolution calling on Iran to stop uranium enrichment that invoked the so-called Chapter 7 clause, which could open the door to penalties and possibly to military action.
The United States has been pressing for such a resolution. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that the Security Council had no choice but to rebuke Iran and that negotiations had apparently broken down between International Atomic Energy Agency monitors and Iranian envoys.
Today, the agency will deliver to the Security Council a report expected to be highly critical of Iran’s compliance with demands that it stop enriching uranium.
The Council is expected to meet, probably next week, to debate what, if any, punitive action to take against Iran.
“If the Security Council decides to take decisions that are not within its competence, Iran is not obliged to obey them,” Mr. Zarif said, speaking to reporters at the residence of the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in Manhattan.
He said the matter should properly be handled by the atomic energy agency, not the United Nations.
He also sought to portray Iran’s defiant stance as nothing more than a logical response to American threats against Iran.
“We’re not upping the ante,” he said. “We’re simply responding to others upping the ante.”
Ms. Rice, speaking in Bulgaria at a conference of envoys from NATO and the European Union, said, “What is clear is that it is highly unlikely that Iran is going to accede to the demands of the international community.”
She added, “In order to be credible, the Security Council of course has to act.”
Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter deals with “threats to the peace, breaches of peace, and acts of aggression,” and its application in this case would make Iranian compliance binding under international law.
As a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran has the right to enrich uranium, but the United States and its European allies have argued that Iran’s concealment of nuclear activities in the past means it has forfeited that right.
In January, Iran restarted its effort to make atomic fuel after negotiations with Britain, France and Germany over the fate of its atomic program broke down, and a month ago the Council voted unanimously to give Iran 30 days to show it had stopped enriching uranium.
Yesterday in Vienna, Iranian officials delivered a confidential letter to the agency that emphasized its determination to press on with its nuclear program, defying calls from other nations to freeze its activities, according to a European official who had seen the document.
The letter was a response to the agency’s demand for more cooperation from Iran to investigate suspicions that Iran has been researching ways to produce warheads or delivery systems for weapons. Iran has denied such activities. The letter reflected a hardening of Iran’s position and asked other nations to make concessions to Iran, the official said.
A senior Iranian official confirmed the delivery of the letter, which he said would probably be made public today.
Although the United States is pushing for tough measures, it is far from clear whether Russia would drop its opposition to a Chapter 7 resolution at the Security Council.
Past opposition by Russia, China and others has forced the United States to back down from its demand for such a resolution, but now American and European diplomats hope that a new critical finding by the International Atomic Energy Agency will increase support for the action it wants.
Iran insists that its activities are for peaceful purposes only, and its leaders have kept up a barrage of criticism of the United States, Europe and others who suspect it of concealing a nuclear weapons program. In the past several days, Iranian officials have threatened to strike at American military targets if the United States attacks Iran. The officials have also offered to share nuclear technology with other nations, including Sudan.
Last week, Iran informed the monitoring agency that it would provide only the minimal level of cooperation legally required under its safeguards agreement with the agency as a signatory to the nonproliferation treaty.
That decision made it much harder for the agency’s nuclear inspectors to visit sites in Iran and led Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency’s director general, to cancel a trip to Iran by his senior inspectors.
Meanwhile, European diplomats said Iran was expanding its efforts to enrich uranium on an industrial scale with centrifuges tall, thin machines whose rotors spin extraordinarily fast to concentrate uranium’s rare form, uranium 235, which can fuel nuclear reactors or atom bombs.
Diplomats familiar with what Iran has told atomic inspectors in recent days said the country had started work on second and third “cascades” of 164 centrifuges, preparing to match the first already in operation at its enrichment facility in Natanz.
David Albright, an expert on the Iranian centrifuge program and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private research group in Washington, said the Iranian expansion made technical sense but did not necessarily bespeak a major advance.
“I don’t think the first cascade is running all that well,” he said. “So that’s an incentive to build more to learn how to get them working more efficiently. They might need to do many experiments.”
William J. Broad reported from New York for this article, and Elaine Sciolino from Vienna. Steven R. Weisman contributed reporting from Sofia, Bulgaria.