UNITED NATIONS – Iran denounced U.N. sanctions imposed on its nuclear program Saturday, accusing the Security Council of double standards for ignoring Israel's apparent recent admission of its nuclear capabilities.
Speaking after the Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution, Iran's U.N. ambassador called the sanctions illegal and accused Europe and the United States of trying to prevent Iran from pursuing peaceful nuclear technology.
"A nation is being punished for exercising its inalienable rights," said Javad Zarif, accusing the council of acting at the "behest of a dangerous regime with aggression and war crimes as its signature brand of behavior," referring to Israel.
Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared to abandon Israel's long-standing policy of ambiguity on nuclear weapons when he listed Israel among countries that possess them. His office maintains his comments were misinterpreted.
The sanctions were intended to pressure Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, a technology can be used to produce nuclear fuel for civilian purposes or for a nuclear bomb. Iran says its program is intended for peaceful purposes, while the United States and its European allies suspect its ultimate goal is to build a bomb.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry said the government would defy the resolution and continue enriching uranium.
"Iran considers the new U.N. Security Council resolution ... an extralegal act outside the frame of its responsibilities and against the U.N. Charter," the ministry said. "The Iranian nation, relying on its national capabilities and within the framework of its rights stipulated in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, will continue its peaceful nuclear activities."
Zarif's speech was filled with lists of grievances: allegations of war crimes and nuclear irresponsibility by Israel, Iranian proposals he claims were ignored by the Europeans and Americans, and crimes against Iran he charged were ignored by the Security Council.
In an emotional moment, Zarif remembered a colleague, Mahdi Vahidi, who recently died from cancer he said was caused by chemical weapons used by Iraq against Iran during their 1980-88 war. He said the council, because it failed to take action against Iraq at the time, "shouldered responsibility" for Vihidi's and others' deaths.
Zarif also questioned the sincerity of the Security Council's claim that it wanted Iran to suspend enrichment in order to build confidence and trust between Iran and the international community.
The United States' "stated objective has always been to use the council as an instrument of pressure and intimidation to compel Iran to abandon its rights," Zarif said. "Knowing their bright recent history, we can all assume what the unstated objective is."
Iran has said it intends to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment involving 3,000 centrifuges by late 2006, and then expand the program to 54,000 centrifuges, which spin uranium gas into enriched material to produce nuclear fuel.
Iranian nuclear officials say 54,000 centrifuges would produce enough enriched uranium to fuel a 1,000-megawatt reactor, such as the one Iran has built with Russian assistance at Bushehr, southern Iran. The reactor is due to begin operating next year.