TEHRAN,(Reuters) – The United Nations cannot push Iran into abandoning its nuclear work, an influential cleric said on Friday.
“Islamic Iran will not be deprived from its obvious nuclear right, even by a resolution by an useless U.N. Security Council,” Ahmad Khatami told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran, broadcast live on state radio.
Key U.N. Security Council members have informally agreed on a resolution that includes the threat of sanctions if Iran fails to halt all uranium enrichment-related and plutonium reprocessing activities, Western diplomats said on Thursday.
The draft text must first be approved by governments of the five Security Council members with veto power — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — as well as Germany, a European negotiator on the Iran controversy.
Measures such as imposing U.N. sanctions on Iran are not backed by veto-wielding Russia and China.
Russia is helping Iran build its first atomic power station at the Gulf port of Bushehr and is interested in further nuclear cooperation with the oil-rich state.
Khatami said the Security Council’s intervening in Iran’s nuclear issue had undermined prospects for talks over its atomic dispute with the West, which fears Iran’s nuclear activity is a cover for bomb-making. Iran denies the charge.
“It would be wise if the Europeans use all diplomatic channels to resolve Iran’s nuclear issue,” said Khatami, who sits on the Assembly of Experts, the body of 86 clerics that constitutionally supervises the country’s most powerful man, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“Iran is ready to hold talks without any pre-conditions.”
Tehran has indicated it might withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, if the resolution were adopted by the Security Council.
The world’s fourth biggest oil exporter, Iran has failed to respond to an offer of commercial and technological incentives made by major powers in early June, prompting them to refer the case to the Security Council.
Iran has repeatedly said it would consider incentives but insisted the crux of the package — that Iran must give up uranium enrichment — was unacceptable. Iran says it will respond by Aug. 22.
“Involving the Security Council before Iran’s reply to the offer, proved that the whole offer was evil and deceptive,” Khatami said.