(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
TEHRAN — Iran on Wednesday dismissed as "illegitimate" a draft UN Security Council resolution seeking to impose harsher sanctions against Tehran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh, a top adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the draft proposed by the US was a reactionary response to a deal in which Iran agreed to ship much of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey.
The surprise deal, brokered by Turkey and Brazil Monday, didn't ease concerns in the West that Iran's nuclear program has military dimensions primarily because Tehran has said it will continue to enrich uranium to higher levels.
Uranium enriched to a low level is used for nuclear fuel, but if processed to much higher levels it can be fashioned into a weapon.
"The draft resolution being discussed at Security Council has no legitimacy at all," the official IRNA news agency quoted Samareh as saying Wednesday after a Cabinet meeting.
The deal would deprive Iran — at least temporarily — of some of the stocks of enriched uranium that it would need to process further to create a weapon, if that were its intention. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.
But — because seven months have elapsed since the agreement was originally floated and Iran continues to enrich — it would still have enough material to make such a weapon even if Tehran shipped out the original amount stipulated by the UN
The material would be returned to Iran in the form of fuel rods, which cannot be processed further. Iran needs the fuel rods to power an aging medical research reactor in Tehran that produces isotopes for cancer treatment.
But to the US and its allies the deal is to little now too late.
The United States and its Western allies won crucial support from Russia
and China for new sanctions against Iran Tuesday but face tough
opposition from non-permanent UN Security Council members Turkey, Brazil
Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also the head of Atomic Energy
Organization of Iran, said world powers would discredit themselves if
they passed new sanctions.
"By issuing resolution, they would further discredit themselves in the
public opinion," he said on state TV. "Discussions of imposing sanctions
has faded away and this is a last effort by the Western countries."