Iran's chief nuclear negotiator warned Tuesday that the country would resume enriching uranium and restrict United Nations inspectors from critical information if the United States and its allies used the "language of threat" by referring Iran to the Security Council.
The negotiator's threat, which appeared to be backed by Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, came as a confidential draft resolution circulating at the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency included a call for the Security Council to take up "Iran's many failures and breaches of its obligations."
The comments by the Iranian negotiator, Ali Larijani, in a news conference in Tehran on Tuesday were the first time that Iran had explicitly threatened to cut off inspections and resume enriching uranium - which it insists will be used for civilian reactor fuel, not nuclear weapons - if the atomic agency's board acts.
Mr. Larijani, who is also secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, is newly appointed to his post as negotiator on nuclear issues, and the news conference was his first since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office last month. In a fiery speech on Saturday in front of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Ahmadinejad criticized the United States and its allies and vowed to press ahead with Iran's nuclear program, noting that it had a right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to produce nuclear fuel.
Bush administration maintains that Iran gave up that right by hiding, for more than 17 years, a range of nuclear activities that United Nations inspectors only discovered with the help of intelligence agencies and Iranian dissidents, reports the New York Times.
Despite broad Western support for the EU draft resolution, diplomats said Moscow opposed any involvement of the Council.
At a dinner meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) countries on Monday, the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada all tried to persuade Russia that Iran should be brought before the United Nations' highest body.
But Moscow was not convinced that taking the issue outside of the Vienna-based IAEA was necessary.
He was summarising a diplomatic cable from New York, where the dinner meeting took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The diplomat said the other G8 countries would continue trying to persuade the Russians that it was necessary to report Iran to the UN's highest body for hiding its uranium enrichment programme for 18 years and failing to co-operate with the nearly three-year-old IAEA investigation, informs People’s daily.