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MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2007

Iran partially suspending cooperation with U.N.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP)— Iran announced Sunday that it was partially suspending cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog while hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the latest U.N. sanctions would not halt the country’s uranium enrichment “even for a second.”

Iranian state television quoted Ahmadinejad as saying the additional Security Council sanctions imposed Saturday “stem from the hostility by some powers against Iran.”

“It is not a new issue for the Iranian nation. Enemies of the Iranian nation have made a mistake this time too,” Ahmadinejad said, adding the new sanctions “will not halt Iran’s peaceful nuclear program even for a second.”

Meanwhile, government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said the Cabinet on Sunday decided to suspend “code 1-3 of minor arrangements of the safeguards” with the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The suspension would “continue until Iran’s nuclear case is referred back to the IAEA from the U.N Security Council,” Elham said.

Tehran’s scaling back of cooperation with the IAEA was in apparent retaliation for the sanctions unanimously approved by the Security Council over Tehran’s refusal to stop enriching uranium, a process that can be used in the production of nuclear weapons.

The West strongly suspects Iran’s nuclear activities are aimed at producing weapons though Tehran says they are exclusively for the production of energy.

The U.N. sanctions are meant to send Tehran a strong message that its defiance will leave it increasingly isolated and open to even tougher penalties.

But Iran remains defiant. The suspension was a response to “Saturday night’s illegal and bullying resolution by Security Council,” said Elham, adding the government was acting fully within law in the move.

In New York, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said “a few select countries don’t have the right to abuse the Security Council” and described the new sanctions as “illegal, unwarranted and unjustified.” He said they undermine the credibility of the Security Council.

Mottaki said Iran has repeatedly sought negotiations with the powers that drafted the resolution against his country: the five permanent council members — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China — and Germany. But he accused them of lacking the political will to reach a breakthrough.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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