MOSCOW – Russia said Wednesday a draft U.N. resolution on Iran's disputed nuclear program does not call for any harsh sanctions, and the Iranian president said new measures would not deter the country in its pursuit of nuclear technology.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana planned to meet with Iran's senior nuclear negotiator later Wednesday in talks that would probably address the new draft resolution, European Union officials said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the draft encourages countries to be vigilant in their dealings with Iran to prevent the illegal transfer of nuclear material, but it "does not foresee any harsh sanctions."
"It calls for countries to be vigilant while maintaining trade and economic and transport and other ties with Iran so that they are not used for the transfer of forbidden nuclear material," he said at a news conference a day after the draft was approved by the five permanent Security Council members and Germany.
These terms "will be enforced until the International Atomic Energy Agency's concerns are resolved," Lavrov said, referring to the U.N.'s nuclear monitoring agency.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed new sanctions as irrelevant.
"From our point of view, the issue is over. The issuance of a new resolution won't have any impact on the behavior of the Iranian nation," the official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
Iran has condemned as illegal two previous resolutions that ordered a ban on the supply of specified materials and technology that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs. Those sanctions also imposed an asset freeze on key Iranian companies and individuals named by the U.N.
Jalili, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, said the country would continue with its civilian nuclear program.
"We have been committed to our obligations and did a lot of things beyond our obligations, but we also insist on our rights," Jalili said from Brussels, Belgium, where he was meeting with members of the European Parliament. "We need 20,000 Megawatts of nuclear electricity and for this we have to build 20 nuclear power plants."
Jalili will meet with Solana late Wednesday, the first talks the two have had since November, when 18 months of negotiations collapsed after Solana failed to persuade Jalili to suspend Iran's development of its nuclear program.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said his government has responded to 70 percent of the IAEA's questions about its nuclear activities and that its ongoing cooperation with the U.N. watchdog would remove the need for further sanctions.
The new draft was not publicly released and details of its content were sketchy.
After the text was agreed upon during talks in Berlin on Tuesday, U.S. and European diplomats said it bolstered existing sanctions, notably asset freezes and travel bans on Iranian officials. But they disagreed on whether it contained new measures.
The draft was described as a sign of international resolve that Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and unity on the need to press the country into suspending uranium enrichment, a process that can produce material needed to make an atomic bomb. Iran says it aims to use the technology only for generating power.
U.S. officials said Tuesday's agreement showed that international concern about Iran was not dampened by a U.S. intelligence report in December that determined the Iranian government had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said she had not seen the language of the U.N. resolution.
"What this action does say to the Iranians is that the P5-plus-one remains committed to making sure that Iran does not move forward to have a nuclear weapon," she said, referring to the five Security Council powers and Germany.
The U.S. had been pushing for sweeping new sanctions, mirroring unilateral measures it imposed last year on select Iranian banks and elements of Iran's military. But Russia and China, which along with some European nations have significant investments in Iran, had balked.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the draft resolution included "on the one hand, sanctions, new and precise sanctions, and there is encouragement toward dialogue."