Iran says no talks on nuclear issue if sanctioned

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ISTANBUL: Iran will reject talks on its nuclear program if slapped with new sanctions, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday as the UN Security Council geared up for fresh talks on a fourth sanctions resolution.

"I have said that the US government and its allies are mistaken if they think they can brandish the stick of resolution and then sit down to talk with us, such a thing will not happen," the Iranian leader told a news conference here.

"We will talk to everyone if there is respect and fairness but if someone wants to talk to us rudely and in a domineering manner the response is known already," he added.

His warning came as the UN Security Council was to hold new closed-door consultations Tuesday on the new sanctions against the Islamic Republic after its 15 members failed to reach a consensus on a meeting on Monday.

The council’s five council permanent members — Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States — are co-sponsoring the sanctions draft and believe they have the votes to secure its passage.

"The sponsors are aiming for adoption on Wednesday," a Western diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP Monday.

Ahmadinejad, who is in Turkey for the summit of an Asian security grouping, urged Western powers not to dismiss a nuclear fuel swap deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil last month.

The deal "was an opportunity for the US government and its allies…I hope they will put this to good use. Opportunities will not be repeated," he warned.

Tehran was still waiting for a response from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the deal, he added.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said Monday that his agency was waiting for official responses from the United States, France and Russia to the deal.

Diplomats close to the Vienna-based watchdog have said the so-called Vienna group of countries had drawn up a joint response to Tehran’s proposal and expected to hand it to Amano imminently.

Under the deal, Iran agreed to ship 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for high-enriched uranium fuel for a Tehran reactor to be supplied later by France and Russia.

The United States and other world powers have given a cool reaction to the deal on the grounds that it did not go far enough to allay fears that Tehran is using its contested nuclear drive as a mask for a covert atomic weapons programme.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the weekend that the draft sanctions resolution had the required nine votes for adoption.

Turkey and Brazil have said they will not support the resolution, standing behind the swap deal as an opportunity for a diplomatic resolution to the standoff.

Lebanon has also indicated it cannot support the resolution for domestic political reasons.

The US draft sanctions resolution would expand an arms embargo and measures against Iran’s banking sector and ban it from sensitive overseas activities like uranium mining and developing ballistic missiles, diplomats said.

It also bars the sale of battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems to Iran.

It urges all states to inspect all cargo to and from Iran in their territory, including seaports and airports, when there is reasonable grounds to believe they carry banned items.

It also authorizes states to conduct high-sea inspections of vessels believed to be ferrying banned items from or to Iran.




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