|DEFENDING SHIPMENT DEAL
"The draft resolution . . . has no legitimacy," said Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh, a key adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iran aide says call for sanctions illegitimate
US, allies see plan to ship uranium as too little too late
TEHRAN — Iran has dismissed as illegitimate a draft resolution by the United Nations Security Council seeking to impose harsher sanctions against Tehran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh — a top adviser to the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — said yesterday that the draft proposed by the United States was a reactionary response to a deal in which Iran agreed to ship much of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey.
The surprise deal, brokered by Turkey and Brazil on Monday, did not ease concerns in the West that Iran’s nuclear program has military dimensions, primarily because Tehran has said it will continue to enrich uranium to higher levels.
Uranium enriched to a low level is used for nuclear fuel, but if processed to much higher levels, it can be fashioned into a weapon.
“The draft resolution being discussed at the Security Council has no legitimacy at all,’’ the official IRNA news agency quoted Samareh as saying after a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
The deal would deprive Iran, at least temporarily, of some of the stocks of enriched uranium that it would need to process further to create a weapon, if that were its intention.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful. But it would still have enough material to make such a weapon even if Tehran shipped out the original amount stipulated by the UN, because seven months have elapsed since the agreement was originally floated and Iran continues to enrich uranium.
The material would be returned to Iran in the form of fuel rods, which cannot be processed further. Iran needs the fuel rods to power an aging medical research reactor in Tehran that produces isotopes for cancer treatment.
But to the United States and its allies, the deal is too little and too late.
The United States and its Western allies won crucial support from Russia and China for new sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, but face tough opposition from Turkey, Brazil, and Lebanon, which are nonpermanent members of the Security Council.
Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said world powers would discredit themselves if they passed new sanctions.
“By issuing the resolution, they would further discredit themselves in the public opinion,’’ he said on state television. “Discussions of imposing sanctions have faded away, and this is a last effort by the Western countries.’’