WASHINGTON — Iran will not stop enriching uranium and has a right to pursue atomic technology, the country's foreign minister told UN Security Council diplomats at a private dinner.
A US official familiar with Thursday night's meeting in New York told The Associated Press that Manouchehr Mottaki was defiant in the face of demands that Iran halt the process that can produce fuel for a nuclear weapon.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said talks at the Iranian-hosted event made no progress in resolving the nuclear dispute.
Mottaki invited diplomats from all 15 members of the Security Council to the two-hour dinner in what was seen as Iran's latest high-profile attempt to head off additional penalties over its nuclear program.
Western diplomats said it was a rare move; the Obama administration sent its deputy UN ambassador, Alejandro Wolff, to the meeting. For the US and Iran, which do not have diplomatic relations, it was one of the highest-ranking contacts in recent years.
Mottaki: Iran won't suspend enrichment, even it accepts uranium proposal
Mottaki said Iran would not suspend uranium enrichment, according to the US official. The foreign minister said that position was firm and would not change even if Iran accepted a proposal to send uranium from a medical research reactor in Teheran abroad for reprocessing, the official said Friday.
Wolff and others raised what they said were shortcoming with Iran's
approach in dealing with the international community, the official said.
The US and other Western countries accuse Iran of trying to develop
nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program. Iran
denies the charge. The Obama administration is leading a charge in the
Security Council to impose a fourth round on UN penalties.
On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined a conference
call with senior officials from Britain, France, Germany and the
European Union to go over details of the possible new sanctions.
In addition to discussing the nuclear impasse, the US official said
Wolff had handed Mottaki letters from the families of three American
hikers now detained in Iran appealing for their release. He also passed
on a letter from the family of a former FBI agent who went missing in
Iran three years ago seeking information about his fate.