Iran will continue its nuclear program even if the United Nations imposes sanctions, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said Sunday, referring to the gathering international momentum toward punishing Iran for its enrichment of uranium.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also brushed off the threat of UN Security Council sanctions, telling state TV: "The nuclear case is already finished. We have closed it."
"Our nation conquered the peak" of nuclear technology, Ahmadinejad said while touring a vote-counting center in Tehran that was tabulating the results of Friday's local elections.
Last week, Western officials said Britain, France, Germany, the US, Russia and China were making progress toward a UN Security Council resolution that would impose penalties on Iran for its refusal to cease uranium enrichment - a process that can produce material for nuclear reactors or bombs.
The United States and some of its allies believe Iran is using a civilian nuclear program to build atomic bombs - a charge Iran denies.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters in his weekly briefing that his government would respond to the draft resolution "in due time."
"Since our nuclear activities have been in the international framework and regulations, we will continue them even if sanctions are imposed," Hosseini said.
Iran argues that as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it is entitled to the peaceful use of enrichment, and that its nuclear program is entirely for the generation of electricity.
However, the UN nuclear watchdog has told Iran to cease enrichment until it has fully answered questions about the scope of its nuclear program.
On Saturday, Ahmadinejad told an envoy from Kuwait that Iran would be prepared to transfer nuclear technology to its regional neighbors. Earlier this month, Arab Gulf states said they would consider a joint nuclear program for peaceful purposes.
Such a technological transfer would be legal as long as it is between signatory states to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and as long as the International Atomic Energy Agency was informed.
Kuwait's foreign minister, Sheik Mohammed Al Sabah, said Sunday that the Gulf states have already contacted the UN watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, about a joint program. He told reporters in Kuwait City that the findings of a GCC study on the project would be reviewed by Gulf leaders in a year's time.