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Iran Remains Defiant Following UN Vote

Ahmadinejad has vowed to continue Iran's nuclear program (file photo) (epa) December 25, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Iran is vowing to push ahead with uranium enrichment despite UN Security Council sanctions aimed at discouraging such nuclear activities, with President Mahmud Ahmadinejad saying today the sanctions will have "no impact" on the course of Tehran's nuclear program.

The sanctions, unanimously adopted by the 15 members of the Security Council on December 23, ban the sale of sensitive nuclear materials and technology to Tehran.

Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and as a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) it has the right to enrich uranium for civil purposes. But the international community remains suspicious of Iran's nuclear intentions and is attempting to curb the program.

Sanctions Just 'Piece Of Paper'

Today in Tehran, government spokesman Gholam-Hussein Elhan said the UN resolution is merely based on imagination and said a country should not be deprived from its rights based on imagination.

President Ahmadinejad said that the resolution is political and aimed at "saving the face of the United States and Britain " at the UN. A day earlier Ahmadinejad dismissed the resolution and called it "a piece of paper."

He said the sanctions would not prevent his country from developing its nuclear program. "I tell you, not only will your current action be harmless to Iran, but you will soon severely regret this [worthless] and very artificial act," he warned.

The Security Council has requested that Muhammad el-Baradei, the director-general of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, report to the council within 60 days on whether Iran has suspended its enrichment program. The UN warned it would take "further appropriate measure" if Iran refused to comply.

No Signs Of Compliance

But so far there are no signs that Iran will comply. Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, has said Iran would respond to the vote by pushing forward with its nuclear plan. Larijani said work was to have started as early as December 24 to install 3,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges at a plant in Natanz.

Today, the deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Saidi, said the planned installation of the centrifuges will go ahead under the surveillance of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He also said that all of Iran's nuclear activities will stay under IAEA supervision.

Meanwhile the Iranian parliament has warned that it may approve a bill that would oblige the government to reduce and revise its cooperation with the IAEA.

There are also renewed calls by some hard-liners including Hussein Shariatmadari, the editor in chief of the conservative "Kayhan" daily, for Iran to leave the NPT. Shariatmadari has described the UN resolution as illegal and "a gift for Israel" and said leaving the NPT would be a suitable reaction.

But others are calling for calm, including legislator Hussein Afarideh, who has warned against emotional and hasty decision and said Iran should continue its negotiations. Elaheh Koulaii, a former reformist legislator, also called for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis in an interview with Radio Farda.

Calls For Calm

"Despite the adoption of this resolution, which should not be considered as the end of talks with Iran, all domestic, regional and international [forces] should do their best so that the road to diplomacy reopens," Koulaii said.

China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council with economic interests in Iran, today called for new talks with Tehran. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said his country hopes that the resolution would be enforced, adding that sanctions cannot be "a permanent solution" to the problem.

Iran And China

Iran And China

Chinese President Jiang Zemin visiting the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis in April 2002 (epa)

TWO REEMERGING CULTURES: At a joint RFE/RL-Radio Free Asia briefing at RFE/RL's Washington, D.C., office on November 9, John Calabrese -- scholar in residence at the Middle East Institute who teaches foreign policy at American University -- discussed the growing ties between China and Iran in the context of China's economic boom and its overall relations with the Middle East. He also looked at potential sore points in the two countries' bilateral relations.


Listen to the complete discussion (about 90 minutes):
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RFE/RL's English-language coverage of China and Iran.


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