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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 14:06 GMT
Iran condemns UN draft sanctions
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to attend the Security Council vote
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed to continue his country's nuclear programme, as the UN stepped up pressure over the controversial work.

The UN Security Council has drafted a new sanctions package against Iran over its refusal to stop enriching uranium.

The package includes an arms embargo and economic penalties, tightening sanctions imposed last year.

Mr Ahmadinejad has made a formal request to attend the Security Council vote on the draft, due next week.

We have a nuclear fuel cycle. We will not give it up under pressure
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Official requests for visas had been made for an Iranian delegation made up of at least 38 people, said Richard Grenell, spokesman for the US mission to the UN.

Mr Ahmadinejad vowed to pursue his nation's nuclear future despite the sanctions, at a rally central Iranian town of Khatam.

"We have a nuclear fuel cycle. We will not give it up under pressure," Mr Ahmadinejad said.

The Security Council... calls upon all States to exercise vigilance and restraint in the supply, sale or transfer... of any battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems... to Iran

"By holding the meetings you cannot block the Iranian nation's path."

On Thursday, he attacked the council as "illegitimate".

The Iranian ambassador to the UN's nuclear agency, the IAEA, described the threat of wider sanctions as counter-productive.

In a BBC interview, the ambassador, Ali Asgar Soltanieh, said the language of threat would never work and added there was no legal basis for the existing sanctions against Iran.

Council vote

The new sanctions package was agreed on Thursday by the five permanent Security Council members - Britain, France, the United States, China and Russia - plus Germany, after Tehran refused to stop enriching uranium, which can be a precursor to weapons manufacture.

The British ambassador to the UN has sent the draft to the 10 non-permanent Security Council members who were not included in the negotiations.

A vote on the draft is due next week.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful, but Western governments say it wants to develop nuclear weapons.

Last December, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose a first, limited set of sanctions against Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment.

The latest package includes extending a freeze of assets to those linked to Iran's nuclear and missile programmes and a ban on new grants and loans to the state.

South Africa's ambassador at the UN, Dumisani Kumalo, who chairs the council this month, warned on Thursday that the 10 non-permanent members now want to have their say.

"Nowhere in this process have they ever said that the five-plus-one would have the exclusive wisdom of producing [the draft resolution] and for us to rubber-stamp," he said.

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