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Iran Says Won't Halt Nuclear Work Despite UN Demand

Qashqavi says uranium enrichment is Iran's "obvious right."
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran says it will not halt sensitive nuclear work as demanded by the UN Security Council in its latest resolution on Tehran's atomic program that the West believes is aimed at making warheads.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution on September 27 ordering the Islamic republic to halt uranium enrichment, the part of the nuclear program that most worries the West because it has both civilian and military uses.

Iran, which insists its plans are peaceful, has already dismissed the resolution that did not add further sanctions to the three sets of penalties already imposed since 2006.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi, in a news conference, made clear Iran would not accept the main demand.

"Enrichment is our obvious right. Demanding that Iran suspend its uranium-enrichment activities is beyond their legal right and we are continuing our natural path," he said.

Iran, the world's fourth-biggest oil producer with huge gas reserves, says it wants nuclear technology to make electricity so it can export more of its hydrocarbons.

It has brushed off previous rounds of sanctions, saying it has a big cash cushion from windfall oil revenues to cope. But analysts say the economy is being hurt by higher trade costs and increasing wariness of investors, particularly Western firms.

Russia, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto powers, opposed further sanctions at this stage despite a U.S.-led effort to impose new penalties.

The United States and Israel have refused to rule out military action if diplomacy fails to end the nuclear row.

Iran says neither country are in a position to attack the Islamic republic but has warned that U.S. interests, Israel, and Persian Gulf oil shipping lanes would be targets if Tehran is pushed.