(photo credit: AP [file])
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday called the UN Security Council an "illegitimate" body and said that any new sanctions imposed on his country would only stimulate it to be self sufficient and further develop nuclear technology.
Speaking after the news that the Security Council had agreed on new sanctions against Iran, Ahmadinejad told a rally in the central city of Meibod: "These threats won't have one iota of effect on the strong will of the Iranian nation."
"You (world powers) cannot force the Iranian nation to retreat" on its nuclear program, the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted him as saying.
Hours earlier the president told a gathering in the central town of Ardakan that "the Security Council today has no legitimacy."
"What are you seeking to prevent (Iran) from achieving?" Ahmadinejad said in Ardakan. "Today, the Iranian nation fully possesses the nuclear fuel cycle. If all of you gather and also invite your ancestors from hell, you will not be able to stop the Iranian nation."
The comments were the first reaction by the Iranian president - known for his provocative rhetoric - to an agreement reached earlier Thursday by the governments of the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany on a new package of sanctions against Teheran for failing to halt its uranium enrichment which the West fears is used for nuclear arms making.
"We have an agreement and I will introduce a text on behalf of the six," Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said after a meeting of ambassadors from the six countries on Thursday.
The package will now be considered by the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council.
In December, the UN Security Council unanimously imposed limited sanctions on Iran for refusing to freeze enrichment, which can produce fuel for nuclear reactors or, if taken to a higher degree, the material for atomic bombs.
After Teheran failed to meet a late February deadline to suspend enrichment under the December resolution, senior representatives of Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany began discussing possible new sanctions that may include an embargo on arms exports and an asset freeze on more individuals and companies linked to Teheran's nuclear and missile programs.
But Ahmadinejad suggested at the rally Thursday that new sanctions would help enhance - not undermine - Iran's development of nuclear technologies.
"Haven't you imposed sanctions in the past 27 years? Which machinery or parts did you give us," he said in reference to US sanctions against Iran and refusal by European countries to sell Iran technologies that could also have nuclear use in the past three decades.
"You imposed sanctions. We became nuclear. You can impose economic sanctions again and you will see for yourself what will be the next stage," Ahmadinejad added.
"Do you think that if you gather and issue a torn piece of paper, you will be able to prevent the progress of the Iranian nation," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying on the Web site of the state-run television.
The United States and some of its European allies fear Iran is using uranium enrichment to secretly build nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is for generating electricity, not bombs.
Iran says it will never give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, says that while there is no evidence to prove Iran's nuclear program has diverted toward weapons, Teheran has stepped up enrichment rather than halt it.
Apart from the threat of the new, upgraded UN sanctions, Iran this week suffered another political blow - Russia's decision to postpone a crucial shipment of fuel for Iran's the Russian-built nuclear reactor at Bushehr because of Iran's payment delays.
Without the Russian uranium, the plant cannot begin generating electricity by September as planned. Iran had expected a fully operational Bushehr to boost its nuclear negotiating position but Russia's move deprived it of this.