Ahmadinejad urges Europe not to seek sanctions

Iran's president on Wednesday urged Europe against resorting to sanctions, saying a day before a UN deadline for the country to halt uranium enrichment that punishment would not dissuade it from pursuing its nuclear program. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments reflected Iran's defiance up to the Thursday deadline, which threatens sanctions against Iran unless it suspends enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for a nuclear reactor but that the West fears will be used to build a warhead. "Sanctions can not dissuade the Iranian nation from conquering the peaks of pride. So it's better for Europe to be independent in decision making and to settle problems through negotiations," Ahmadinejad said, according to state-run television. He made the comments during a meeting with Felipe Gonzales, Spain's former premier, the television report said. Iran has rejected the Thursday deadline as illegal and refused any immediate suspension of enrichment, though it says it is open for negotiations. Iran continued to enrich uranium as recently as Tuesday, UN and European officials in Vienna said Wednesday.