Iran Pledges Reprisals Against Sanctions

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad yesterday warned of ‘firm reprisals’ against any country leading the way to impose new sanctions, adding that Iran was ‘not joking’.

Britain, France and the United States are pushing for a new sanctions resolution this week, after UN atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said it could still not confirm if the Iranian nuclear programme was peaceful.

‘They could spend 100 years passing resolutions but it will not change anything,’ Ahmadinezhad said in an interview with state television.

Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini added: ‘In the case of the adoption of the resolution, we will make a deserving action. We will announce our decision at the right time based on the content of the resolution.’

The IAEA said in its latest report last Friday that it had made ‘quite good progress’ in its four-year probe into the Iranian nuclear drive.

But the report added that it was still not in a position to determine the ‘full nature of Iran’s nuclear programme’ and confirmed Tehran was continuing to defy UN demands by enriching uranium.

The report was met with opposing responses from Tehran and Washington.

Iranian officials said the report proved that the nuclear case was now closed, with Ahmadinezhad hailing the ‘historic victory of Iran in its greatest confrontation with the oppressive powers since the Islamic revolution’.

By contrast, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the report provided ‘a very strong case’ for moving forward with a third UN Security Council sanctions resolution to punish Tehran’s failure to suspend enrichment.

US assistant secretary for political affairs, Nicholas Burns, added: ‘It is our firm belief that there is all the more reason now for the Security Council to pass a third sanctions resolution.’

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hosseini said further sanctions could only cause ‘slight problems’ for the Islamic republic.

‘It is not possible to sanction a country like Iran with so many natural resources and 15 regional neighbours. Sanctions are a defeated measure,’ he added.

The US plans to host a new round of talks between Security Council members today ahead of a Council meeting on Wednesday and a vote on the resolution text on Friday.