TEHRAN, Iran, (AP) – Iran vowed Sunday to push forward efforts to enrich uranium and to change its relations with the international nuclear watchdog after the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions designed to stop the country’s disputed nuclear program.
Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Security Council would regret voting in favor of the sanctions, saying he was sorry the West lost its chance to make amends with Iran.
“I am sorry for you who lost the opportunity for friendship with the nation of Iran. You yourself know that you cannot damage the nation of Iran an iota,” the state-run news agency, IRNA, quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
Ahmadinejad also said the United Nations must accept Iran’s nuclear program and warned that sanctions would not harm his country.
“You have to accept that Iran has the technology of producing nuclear fuel. And it will celebrate it in coming anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution in February,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Iran pledged to change its relationship with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Association.
“We are not obliged and it is not expected that cooperation with the IAEA continues at the same former level,” Hosseini told reporters. He did not provide details about what would change.
Iran’s parliament on Sunday voted to urge the country’s administration to revise its cooperation with the IAEA but did not set a timeline or provide further details. Many legislators chanted “Death to America” after the vote.
“The government should seriously and strongly continue the important issue of peaceful nuclear technology with prudence and foresight. It should never accept such illogical pressures,” more than 200 legislators said in a statement read on state-run radio.
The U.N. Security Council resolution — the result of two months of tough negotiation — orders all countries to stop supplying Iran with materials and technology that could contribute to its nuclear and missile programs. It also freezes the Iranian assets of 10 key companies and 12 individuals related to those programs.
If Iran refuses to comply, the council warned it would adopt further nonmilitary sanctions, but the resolution emphasized the importance of diplomacy in seeking guarantees “that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.”
Iran insists its nuclear program is intended to produce energy, but the Americans and Europeans suspect its ultimate goal is the production of weapons.
Ahmadinejad also downplayed the resolution, saying it would be the Security Council that regretted it, not Iran.
“This will not damage the nation of Iran, but its issuers will soon regret this superficial and nil act,” he said, speaking to a group of war veterans from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war at the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
The United States has said it hopes the resolution will clear the way for tougher measures by individual countries, particularly Russia.
The Bush administration had pushed for tougher penalties. But Russia and China, which both have strong commercial ties to Tehran, balked.
To get their votes, the resolution dropped a ban on international travel by Iranian officials involved in nuclear and missile development and specified the banned items and technologies.
It says the council will review Iran’s actions in light of a report from the head of the IAEA, requested within 60 days, on whether the country has suspended uranium enrichment and complied with other IAEA demands.
It also says sanctions will end when the board of the IAEA confirms that Iran has complied with all its obligations.
The six countries trying to get Iran to curb its nuclear program — Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States — offered Tehran a package of economic and political incentives if it agreed to suspend uranium enrichment. But Iran refused and rejected an Aug. 31 council deadline to freeze enrichment.
Earlier Sunday, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said the resolution made his country more “decisive in realizing our nuclear aims.”
“From Sunday morning, we will begin activities at Natanz — site of 3,000-centrifuge machines — and we will drive it with full speed. It will be our immediate response to the resolution,” Iran’s Kayhan newspaper quoted Larijani as saying.
Iran first showed its ability to enrich uranium in February, when it produced a small batch of low-enriched uranium using a first set of 164 centrifuges at its pilot complex in Natanz.
Iran has said it intends to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment involving 3,000 centrifuges by late 2006, and then expand the program to 54,000 centrifuges, which spin uranium gas into enriched material to produce nuclear fuel.