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Page last updated at 10:28 GMT, Tuesday, 24 June 2008 11:28 UK

EU sanctions illegal, says Iran

Nuclear facility at Isfahan
Iran is already under UN sanctions for its nuclear activities

Iran has condemned as illegal new EU sanctions against Tehran over its uranium enrichment programme.

A foreign ministry spokesman said the sanctions would make Iran more determined to obtain the technology.

On Monday, the EU imposed an asset freeze on Iran's largest bank and added more names to a list of Iranians who are banned from travelling to the EU.

The US and allies accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its programme is for peaceful purposes.

It is defying a demand from the UN that it stop the enrichment of uranium.


Such illegal and paradoxical behaviour.... is meaningless and is strongly condemned
Mohammad Ali Hosseini
Iranian foreign ministry

The UN Security Council approved a third round of sanctions against Iran over the issue in March 2008.

Incentives

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the EU approach was contradictory at a time when two separate packages of incentives - put forward by world powers and Iran - were being considered as a way of resolving the confrontation.

Western officials have accused Iran's Bank Melli of providing services to the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

The United States placed the bank on its blacklist last year, a measure that allows the freezing of any assets found in the US.

Existing UN Security Council sanctions block the sale to Iran of equipment and technology related to nuclear activities and also of so-called dual-use items, which can have either a military or civilian purpose.

Natanz uranium enrichment facility - June 26, 2007

The sanctions also call on governments to withdraw financial backing from companies trading with Iran and prevent dealings with an Iranian state bank and a number of named individuals and organisations.

Fuel guarantee

Earlier this month, Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany renewed a package of incentives to Iran to try to encourage the opening of negotiations.

Under the package, talks can start about a long-term agreement on Iran's nuclear programme if it halts uranium enrichment.

Also on offer is recognition of Iran's right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and the treatment of Iran in "the same manner" as other states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran would get help with developing nuclear power stations and be guaranteed fuel for them.

It would also be offered trade concessions, including the possible lifting of US sanctions preventing it from buying new civilian aircraft and parts.


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