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Iran's Nuclear Negotiator Issues New Threat Over UN Referral

Larijani (right) with Russian Security Council head Igor Ivanov at a recent meeting in Tehran (epa) 25 January 2006 -- Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, has warned that his country will start full-scale uranium-enrichment activities if it is reported to the UN Security Council.

Larijani, who is also Iran's Supreme National Security Secretary, made those comments in Moscow today after talks with his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov.

"If political pressure is used, if [Iran's nuclear case] is referred to the UN Security Council, or if they even bring up the issue at the Security Council informally, then according to the [Iranian] parliament's bill, we are obliged to cease all suspensions [of uranium-enrichment activities]."

The United States and the European Union have threatened to have the UN International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors send Iran to the Security Council for possible punitive sanctions at a meeting
in Vienna on 2-3 February.

Russia and China, who are permanent Security Council members, have called for restraint in the dispute, saying priority should be given to diplomacy.

Moscow has offered to enrich Iranian uranium on its soil in a bid to allay Western concerns that Tehran might be seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Larijani today said his country was interested in the offer, but that further talks are needed.

Larijani is expected in Beijing on 26 January for talks with Chinese officials.

(Interfax, ITAR-TASS, Reuters)