US serving UN `poisonous food,' Iran says


AP, VIENNA
Friday, Mar 09, 2007, Page 6
Iran has accused the US and its allies of misinforming the world about its nuclear intentions, saying they cooked up "poisonous food" and served it to the UN Security Council to get it to act against Tehran.

Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, Tehran's chief delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also accused the US and Israel of threatening military attacks on its nuclear facilities and said Security Council sanctions against his country were illegal.

Washington in turn criticized Tehran for ignoring Security Council demands to freeze uranium enrichment and said Iranian "intransigence" in answering questions about its nuclear program raises the level of concern that it might be seeking to make nuclear arms.

Wednesday's comments, inside and on the sidelines of a 35-nation IAEA board meeting, came as part of a review of a report by its chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, confirming that Iran had defied a Security Council deadline last month and continued expanding its enrichment program.

SUSPENDING AID

Yesterday the gathering was to decide on partly or fully suspending 23 technical aid programs for Iran. Before that agenda item, diplomats accredited to the meeting said approval of the suspensions was virtually certain.

Any such move would be in line with existing Security Council sanctions and would come amid discussions among the five permanent Council members on possible new sanctions against Iran.

Council diplomats in New York said these could include a travel ban, an expanded list of people and companies subject to an asset freeze, an arms embargo and trade restrictions, but they cautioned that differences remained.

Soltanieh accused the US and Israel, of "continuing to make threats against Iran's ... [nuclear] facilities."

But he suggested that Tehran's nuclear program would survive any aggression, citing ElBaradei in declaring that nuclear "knowledge cannot be bombed."

NOT INTERESTED

Soltanieh denied such aims, saying: "Weapons of mass destruction have no place in the Islamic Republic of Iran's defense doctrine."

Iran steadfastly insists it is not interested in nuclear arms and wants to enrich uranium not to create the fissile core of warheads but to generate energy.

Outside the meeting, he attributed international pressure on Iran to give up enrichment to "the poisonous food served up by a few [IAEA] members and sent to New York," to the Security Council.

Reflecting the US stance, chief delegate Gregory Schulte accused Iran of ignoring "the serious international concerns expressed by the Security Council" in demanding a freeze of enrichment.

Schulte also criticized Iran for continuing to build facilities that will produce plutonium -- another possible pathway to nuclear arms -- and thus again ignoring a Security Council demand.

He cited ElBaradei in saying that his agency cannot conclude that Iran's program is peaceful unless Tehran stops stonewalling on questions posed by his agency. And he urged Tehran to reverse a ban on 38 IAEA inspectors, all from countries that back Security Council action against the Islamic republic.

An EU statement touched on essentially the same points.

Outside the meeting, German chief delegate Peter Gottwald, whose country holds the EU presidency, said Iran's refusal to heed the Security Council demand on suspending enrichment constituted "unacceptable behavior."

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