news services
updated 3/21/2007 4:45:15 PM ET 2007-03-21T20:45:15

Iran’s supreme leader said Wednesday that Tehran will pursue nuclear activities outside international regulations if the U.N. Security Council insists it stop uranium enrichment.

“Until today, what we have done has been in accordance with international regulations,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said. “But if they take illegal actions, we too can take illegal actions and will do so.”

Khamenei did not elaborate on what “illegal actions” could be pursued by Tehran, which faces new Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt enrichment.

Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty — the agreement under which U.N. inspections are held.

Khamenei warned the United States that Iran will “use all its capacities to strike” if his country is attacked.

“If they want to treat us with threats and enforcement of coercion and violence, undoubtedly they must know that the Iranian nation and authorities will use all their capacities to strike enemies that attack,” Khamenei told the nation in an address marking the first day of Nowruz, or the Persian New Year.

Ahmadinejad: West waging ‘psychological warfare’
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday had a similar message, accusing some big powers of waging psychological warfare against Iran. “By psychological warfare, propaganda and misuse of the organizations they have themselves created ... they are trying to prevent our nation’s development,” Ahmadinejad said.

Khamenei said sanctions against Iran had not worked in the past.

“We achieved nuclear (technology) under sanctions. Sanctions may even, under circumstances, come to our benefit since they create more motivation for us,” he added.

“The Iranian nation needs nuclear energy for life, not weapons,” Khamenei said. “One day oil will dry up.”

Security Council sets new sanctions
Germany and the five permanent members of the Security Council — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — have drawn up new sanctions to punish Iran for rejecting U.N. demands to halt enrichment — a process that can produce fuel for a reactor or fissile material for a nuclear warhead.

The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of intending to build nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is purely for generating electricity.

Iran says it will never give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel. But it has offered to provide guarantees that its nuclear program won’t be diverted toward weapons.

Ambassadors from the 15 Security Council nations held informal discussions at Britain’s U.N. Mission in New York ahead of a meeting to discuss possible changes to the draft sanctions resolution.

Ahmadinejad plans trip to U.N.
Ahmadinejad has said he will travel to the United Nations in New York if the Security Council decides to vote on sanctions.

The sanctions in the draft resolution would ban Iranian arms exports and freeze the assets of 28 additional individuals and organizations involved in the country’s nuclear and missile programs — about a third linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, an elite military corps.

The package also calls for voluntary restrictions on travel by the individuals subject to sanctions, on arms sales to Iran, and on new financial assistance or loans to the Iranian government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, said his country “will not support excessive sanctions against Iran,” and added that the draft resolution has been softened at Moscow’s behest.

Lavrov said broader restrictions on officials’ travel, and a ban on “credits” to Iran, had been softened on Russia’s advice. He did not specify what type of credits.

‘Wedge’ issue for Tehran, Moscow
European and U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks said Tuesday that Moscow had bluntly told Tehran it would not ship fuel for the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran until Tehran freezes its uranium enrichment program.

Lavrov denied that. “It’s not the first time that we are seeing such an unscrupulous approach aimed at driving a wedge between us and Iran,” he told lawmakers in the lower house of parliament.

Russia has said plans to supply fuel for Bushehr this month were called off because of Iranian payment delays that prompted Moscow to indefinitely postpone the reactor’s September launch.

Iran angrily denied falling behind in payments and accused Russia of caving in to U.S. pressure to take a tougher line on Tehran.

Iranian state television on Tuesday described Russia as an “unreliable partner,” adding: “It is clear that Russia has stopped construction of this plant under pressure and for political reasons.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments