Germany warns of new sanctions against Iran
A defiant Tehran said it will continue enriching uranium a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government declared plans to build 10 new enrichment plants.Tehran -- Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki lashed out at the UN atomic watchdog on Monday, accusing it of implementing the "law of the jungle" as Britain and Germany warned of new sanctions against Tehran.
A defiant Mottaki said Tehran will continue enriching uranium, the most controversial aspect of its nuclear programme, a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government declared plans to build 10 new enrichment plants.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who has negotiated for the bloc on the Iran nuclear issue, said on his last day in office in Brussels that he regretted Tehran's "wrong decision."
"I lament that they have taken this decision. I still hope there will be a possibility to change their mind," Solana told reporters.
Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani also questioned the importance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), raising concerns about how long Tehran would remain a member given its determination to pursue its nuclear programme in defiance of international censure.
Mottaki called Friday's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution "illogical," saying it "destroys" the very foundation on which the UN nuclear body is based.
The resolution condemned Tehran for building a second uranium enrichment plant near the Shiite holy city of Qom, an act seen as defying the UN Security Council which has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran for enriching uranium at its first plant in the central city of Natanz.
"This is an act of bullying. Today, we call it the law of the jungle. Such measures will destroy the very foundation of the UN Security Council and the IAEA," Mottaki told a joint news conference with visiting Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko.
Mottaki said enriching uranium was Iran's right as it has been an NPT member for nearly four decades.
Angered by the IAEA resolution, which was also backed by Tehran's close trade partners Russia and China, Ahmadinejad's government on Sunday declared Iran would build 10 new Natanz-size uranium enrichment plants.
"We had no intention of building so many sites... but apparently the West does not want to understand Iran's message of peace and the way they behaved persuaded the government to pass a decree to build 10 sites like Natanz," Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi told public radio.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner branded Iran's threat "ridiculous" and "childish."
Western powers led by Washington object to Tehran's enrichment programme as they fear the material which can be used to fuel reactors would be used by Iran to make atomic weapons.
"The uranium enrichment programmes have no other goal than a military goal," French Defence Minister Herve Morin said, citing what he said was evidence "from the intelligence services of several countries, notably France."
The West, infuriated by Iran's disclosure of the Qom plant, also wants Tehran to agree to an IAEA-brokered deal which envisages sending its stocks of low-enriched uranium abroad in one go.
Iran has rejected the proposal, saying it would export its LEU only if it gets enriched fuel for a Tehran research reactor at the same time.
Britain and Germany warned on Monday that Tehran could face more sanctions if it kept defying world powers.
"The priority always is to get the talks to work," said Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman in London. "We would then review at the right moment, and maybe it's towards the end of this year, whether we pursue the second route of a dual track policy which is obviously, you think about things like sanctions."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned that "if Iran rejects the hand that has reached out, it must expect heavier sanctions."
But Moscow's Shmatko said there was "still good scope to continue negotiation." He later visited the nuclear power plant in the southern Iranian city of Bushehr, being built by the Russians, for a pre-commissioning test.
"This is the most important test before this power plant becomes operational," state television's website quoted Salehi as saying, and cited Shmatko as saying the "priority is safety."
Larijani, who said the current crisis could be resolved through diplomacy, at a news conference also questioned the NPT's relevance, calling it "a one-sided tool": "We say that we want to carry out our activities under NPT and they must guarantee this ... that NPT regulations be properly applied and that they do not do indulge in any political interference.”
Aresu Eqbali and Jay Deshmukh/AFP/Expatica