Iran 'Not Concerned' About Possible Referral to UNSC over Nukes

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:16 PM EDT

( - Iran has shrugged off the possibility that the U.N. nuclear watchdog may refer it to the Security Council if it resumes controversial uranium processing work this week.

After failing to persuade Tehran to maintain a freeze on the activity, Britain, France and Germany called an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) board of governors, scheduled for Tuesday.

Iran has rejected a 35-page proposal by the European Union trio, presented on Friday and backed by the U.S., which would allow it to use nuclear energy peacefully but require guarantees that it was not developing a weapons program.

The trio, known as the EU3, is offering economic and political cooperation in return for Iran abandoning all activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

Enriched uranium is used to fuel nuclear power reactors, but can also be used to make bombs.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekend press briefing the proposal failed to recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium. Iran's official response would be delivered on Monday, he said.

Iran plans this week to resume work at a previously sealed facility near the city of Isfahan, where raw uranium is converted into uranium hexafluoride gas, a substance used in the enrichment process.

If it does so, the EU3 has warned it will recommend that the IAEA board refers Tehran to the Security Council, a step that could lead to the imposition of sanctions.

Asefi said referring Iran to the Council would be unlawful, but added "we are not concerned and are ready for everything."

"Threat against Iran would not bear any fruits," the IRNA news agency quoted him as saying. "We recommend the Europeans to act wisely and give up the language of threat."

Asefi also said the Western claim that Iran was trying to manufacture atomic bombs was a "sheer lie."

The U.S. and its allies worry that the nuclear power program may be a cover for attempts to develop nuclear weapons.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told German television that Iran's planned move could lead to U.N. sanctions.

He declared himself to be "very worried by the path of confrontation that Iran seems to have chosen." Schroeder also said he did not believe any of the Western nations concerned about Iran was planning military action.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sworn in as Iran's top elected figure on Saturday, said Iran would not be cowed by Western threats.

"We are logical and respect international duties, but will not give in to those who want to violate our rights," he said. "The Iranian nation cannot be intimidated. I don't know why some countries do not want to understand the fact that the Iranian people do not tolerate force."

Ahmadinejad's election means all government institutions in Iran, elected and otherwise, are now in the hands of ideological "hardliners."

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the unelected "supreme leader" who holds ultimate power in Tehran, last week ordered the new government not to give up "the rights of the nation."

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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow