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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 May 2006, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Iran says UN sanctions unlikely
Workers at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant
Iran says its nuclear programme will only serve its energy needs
Iran has predicted Russia and China will block any move to impose sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said in Tehran that the two veto-wielding states had told Iran they were "against sanctions and military attacks".

Top diplomats from all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, as well as Germany, are in Paris for talks on the issue.

A UN report accuses Iran of ignoring calls to stop uranium enrichment.

There is a very wrong assumption held by some that the West can do anything it wants through the Security Council
Manuchehr Mottaki
Iranian foreign minister

The US, UK and France and Germany want the UN to threaten Iran with sanctions if it continues defying them.

Iran says the US is planning to attack it and denies its uranium enrichment is directed at building a nuclear bomb.

"[Russia and China] have officially and in diplomatic talks told us they are against sanctions and military attacks," Mr Mottaki told Tehran newspaper Kayhan.

"There is a very wrong assumption held by some that the West can do anything it wants through the Security Council."

Both Moscow and Beijing have called for Iran to meet UN nuclear concerns but have also spoken against any escalation of the situation.

Growing anxiety

The meeting in Paris comes ahead of a 9 May meeting in New York of foreign ministers from the top Security Council nations and Germany.

IRAN CRISIS: NEXT STEPS
2 May: Negotiators from US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany meet in Paris
3 May: Possible Security Council meeting to discuss IAEA report
9 May: Foreign ministers from US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany meet at UN

The US is spearheading efforts to introduce a new Council resolution, drafted under the UN's chapter seven procedures, which carries the threat of possible economic and military action against Iran.

Iran has said already that it will dismiss any UN resolution regarding its nuclear programme.

According to the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris, the process of increasing the pressure on Iran is going to be laborious and minutely calibrated in order to maintain a front of international unity.

Officials say the diplomatic route has still a long way to run.

However, there is growing anxiety about the apparently fading prospects of making Tehran stop uranium enrichment - and of the risk of US military action if it fails to do so.

An IAEA report on Friday said that Iran had failed to comply with a 30-day Security Council deadline to stop uranium enrichment.

Iran later strongly criticised the US at the UN, accusing Washington of threatening to launch a military strike against its nuclear facilities.

In a letter delivered to Secretary General Kofi Annan, Iran said the US was "openly" planning to attack Iran in breach of international law.

US President George W Bush has refused to rule out military action against Iran, but has repeatedly insisted that the dispute be resolved diplomatically.




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