Iran: More U.N. sanctions over atom plans illegal

Reuters, March 3, 2008

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran told world powers on Monday they would be acting illegally if they voted to pass a third set of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on a new resolution on Monday to toughen penalties for Iran's failure to halt work the West fears is designed to produce nuclear bombs.

Iran denies any such intention and insists it wants to master the nuclear technology to produce electricity. But it has fanned suspicions about its aims because it concealed atomic work in the past and has curbed access to U.N. inspectors.

"Any new sanctions are not only illegitimate and illegal but backers of new sanctions resolutions should take responsibility for their illegal behavior which is against international regulations," senior nuclear official Mohammad Saeedi said.

The deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said such action would "make the issue more complicated and difficult".

His comments were carried on the official IRNA news agency and later confirmed to Reuters.

Saeedi told Reuters that International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei had said two issues behind Iran's referral to the U.N. Security Council had been resolved.

The issues related to questions over Iran's work with nuclear centrifuges and contamination of atomic equipment.

"Therefore, the interference of the Security Council is meaningless and the demand for suspension (of Iran's nuclear work) is meaningless," he added.

The Security Council has demanded Iran stop enriching uranium, for which Iran has been developing more advanced centrifuges. The West fears Iran wants to divert its activity from making power plant fuel towards making material for bombs.

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Charles Dick)

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