New UN nuclear sanctions could mean confrontation: Iran

Fresh international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme could lead to confrontation, foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned in Brussels Wednesday.

“There are two options,” to resolve the problem, he told an audience at the European Policy Centre think-tank.

“The first is based on cooperation, the other is based on confrontation,” he said on the second and last day of his visit to the Belgian capital.

“The resolution” at the United Nations Security Council on imposing new sanctions against Iran “is a basis for confrontation,” he warned.

“That is not our preferred option but that’s up to other parties who would like to move in that direction,” Mottaki added.

Last month the United States introduced a draft resolution at the UN to impose tough new sanctions on Iran.

The draft resolution would expand an arms embargo and measures against Iran’s banking sector and ban it from sensitive overseas activities like uranium mining and developing ballistic missiles, a US official said.

Western powers fear that Iran’s atomic programme is a cover for a nuclear weapons drive. Tehran denies this, saying the programme is aimed at peaceful energy use, which it insists it has the right to pursue.

Iran is already subject to three sets of UN sanctions for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, one of the crucial steps towards the production of nuclear energy for civil or military use.

Mottaki stressed that Iran had no intention of giving up its plans of enriching uranium to 20 percent.

Enrichment lies at the centre of international fears about Iran’s nuclear programme as the process can make the core of an atom bomb in highly purified forms of over 90 percent.

“It’s not against the law,” said Mottaki, warning that a new UN resolution would “kill” a recent initiative with Brazil and Turkey

The two countries brokered a deal with Tehran last month under which Iran has committed to deposit 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of low-enriched uranium in Turkey in return for reactor fuel.

But the deal drew a cool reaction from world powers led by the United States, which is pushing for the new sanctions to be agreed.

Western governments say the deal fails to address concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme.

However Mottaki made it clear that without that deal “definitely we’ll continue our production of 20 percent.”

On the other hand “if we do not need the 20 percent we won’t move into that direction.”