Mottaki: Sanctions over nuclear program 'waste of effort'

Iranian FM calls Bush administration cowardly for not admitting after NIE that it had made a mistake.

Mottaki 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Mottaki 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Western powers should not waste time pushing for renewed sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, the Iranian foreign minister said Saturday, arguing that two previous rounds of sanctions have not worked. In late January, the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany circulated a statement containing the proposed elements of a draft resolution to impose more travel bans, frozen assets and other sanctions on Iran. Asked about the proposal on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital, Manouchehr Mottaki said: "I think they should learn from the last two steps in this direction. Sanctions is the literature of the 1960s and the 1970s, and does not work anymore." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that Iran's nuclear activities will not be deterred by any new UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions. Last week, Britain's UN ambassador said the first two rounds of sanctions imposed on Iran had taken an economic and political toll on the country, adding that a third round would add "another click on the ratchet" toward convincing the nation to halt its nuclear program. Teheran has maintained that its nuclear ambitions are to produce electricity. The latest proposed measure follows on a US intelligence report last month that concluded Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in late 2003 and has not resumed it since. Mottaki called the Bush administration cowardly for not saying after the report that it had made a mistake. He called on the US government "to take the brave step, to be honest for the first time with their people and to tell them, 'We were in doubt. We had concern about Iran's nuclear activities, but based on this report, it has removed our concern, and we do not have any problem."' The two previous resolutions against Iran ordered all countries to prohibit the supply of specified materials and technology that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs, and also imposed an asset freeze on key Iranian companies and individuals named by the UN Officials have said the latest resolution focuses on encouraging countries to be vigilant, rather than introducing new harsh sanctions. Mottaki reiterated his government's position that they have never enriched uranium for weapon development. "We are against nuclear weapons. We do not need, and more than that, we do not believe in nuclear weapons. We do believe at the same time that the time of nuclear weapons is over," he said. He argued that nuclear capability had not prevented economic blight in Russia and the former Soviet republics. Mottaki also said his government had invited officials from Chad and Sudan to Iran for talks to help broker peace in the restive region, just as hundreds of rebel fighters from eastern Chad penetrated the capital of N'Djamena. Mottaki said he had not yet heard details of the latest attack and so couldn't comment.