Iran will not back down on nuclear issue - Ahmadinejad

01.13.2006, 07:44 AM

TEHRAN (AFX) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran will not back down on its nuclear programme, especially its efforts to master the fuel cycle, despite threats to refer the case to the UN Security Council, the student news agency ISNA reported.

Iran earlier today threatened to stop cooperating with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including possibly resuming uranium enrichment, if its controversial nuclear programme is referred to the Security Council.

Officials from the European Union, United States, China and Russia are due to hold talks on the crisis in London on Monday, when they are expected to set a date for a crunch meeting of the IAEA.

The United States and EU are expected to push for Iran to be referred to Security Council for possible sanctions following its resumption of sensitive nuclear activities, a diplomat in Vienna said.

'If the dossier is sent to the Security Council, the European countries will lose the means which are currently at their disposal, because ... the government will be obliged, in conformity with the law adopted by parliament, to end all its voluntary measures of cooperation,' Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

Moscow, which has been trying to reach a compromise with Iran on uranium enrichment by carrying out the process on its soil, again urged Tehran to resume a moratorium on nuclear research and cooperate with the IAEA.

But France said it was 'premature' to speak of sanctions.

In December, Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad signed off on legislation that obliges the government to 'stop voluntary and non-legally binding measures and implement its scientific, research and executive programmes' if the Security Council gets involved.

Ahmadinejad has ordered Iran's Atomic Energy Agency to be prepared to apply the law, the Fars news agency reported.

The law does not refer to specific forms of retaliation, but measures could include resumption of uranium enrichment as well as refusing to adhere to the additional protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which gives increased inspection powers to the IAEA.

The additional protocol was signed by the previous reformist government but was never ratified by the conservative-run parliament.

Compliance with the additional protocol is seen as being crucial to an IAEA probe into allegations Iran is using an atomic energy drive as a cover for weapons development.

Mottaki urged the Europeans to deal with Iran's nuclear activities with 'discretion, patience and a rational attitude'.

'We advise the Europeans to separate the question of research from producing the nuclear fuel and do not propagate around the nuclear research activities which had been unjustly suspended,' he said.

'If they want to discuss making nuclear fuel we are ready to follow up with the negotiations with the EU-3,' he said, but added that if negotiations were broken off by the Europeans, 'Iran will only be in contact with the IAEA to maintain its legitimate and natural rights'.

Prominent cleric Ahmad Khatami denounced the warnings by the international community as 'psychological warfare' in his Friday prayer sermon.

'Thank God our enemies are idiots. They threaten us (but) their threats and sanctions have made us independent,' he said. 'The Europeans must understand they should not use the language of force with the great Iranian nation as it will come to nothing.'