The United Nations security council should wait for the next report from the international nuclear watchdog before adopting a third resolution against Tehran, Iran’s foreign minister said on Monday, saying it would respond “seriously” to hasty action.
Manouchehr Mottaki’s veiled warning came as the security council was scheduled to begin discussing the draft resolution agreed last week by the five permanent members of the Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the US – plus Germany.
“If the resolution is passed ... we will have a serious and logical reaction which we will announce later,” Mr Mottaki told a press conference in Tehran. Although the warning appeared largely rhetorical, it comes at a sensitive time in international efforts to deal with Iran over its nuclear programme.
Iran has already been the subject of two UN resolutions for its refusal to stop enriching uranium, which it insists is only for civilian purposes but which some western countries suspect of being part of a weapons programme.
The latest set of measures would impose a travel ban and asset freeze on Iranians most closely involved with the nuclear programme. UN member states would also be urged to monitor more closely the activities of all Iranian banks.
But Mr Mottaki on Monday said that it was “very surprising” that the security council was considering such measures just weeks before the next IAEA report is due.
“We are in the closing part of this exercise. Most of the questions have now been answered and the IAEA is preparing its report on the rest,” he said, suggesting that the security council was undermining the nuclear watchdog.
“We thought that the other parties would come to the conclusion that it would be to the benefit of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty not to weaken the agency,” he said.
The IAEA earlier this month said that Iran had agreed to clarify outstanding questions relating to its nuclear programme within four weeks.
“This sudden entry of the five plus one with a hasty decision like this shows one thing and one thing only – that is that they are afraid of the results of the IAEA report,” Mr Mottaki said.
The third resolution is weaker than the US, UK and France had been seeking in their efforts to put pressure on Iran to stop uranium enrichment, but they scaled back their demands so they could win the support of China and Russia and thereby present a united front to Tehran.
Attempts to take tougher measures against Iran have been dented by a US intelligence report in December that concluded Iran had halted its nuclear weapons programme in 2003.