TEHRAN, Iran – Iran on Tuesday rejected a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions as "worthless" and vowed to move ahead with its uranium enrichment program.
The U.N. Security Council approved the third round of sanctions a day earlier, ordering a freeze on assets of more Iranian officials and companies with links to the country's nuclear and missile program and for the first time banning trade with Iran in some goods with both civilian and military uses.
"This resolution is contrary to the spirit and articles of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It has been issued based on political motivations and a biased approach. It is worthless and unacceptable," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said, according to the official news agency IRNA.
He said the sanctions would "have no impact on the resolve and determination of the Iranian nation and government to fulfil its legitimate rights in continuing its peaceful nuclear activities within the framework of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty."
The new sanctions came after a report last week by the IAEA that said Iran continues to defying the U.N. Security Council demand for a suspension of uranium enrichment.
The report also said that Iran has cooperated in other areas of an IAEA probe, leading the agency to put to rest for now suspicions that several past experiments and activities were linked to a weapons program. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said progress was made on all issues except that of "alleged weaponization studies that supposedly Iran has conducted in the past."
Iran says the IAEA report vindicated its nuclear program and left no justification for any Security Council sanctions.
"Issuance of this spiteful and anti-Iran resolution is yet another blow to the IAEA prestige and image and discredits the Security Council more than before," Hosseini was quoted by IRNA as saying.
The United States and some of its allies accuse Iran of intending to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran denies the claim, saying its program is aimed only at generating electricity. It insists it has a right to develop uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for a reactor but can also be used to develop material for a warhead.
The new sanctions authorize inspection of cargo shipments at airports and seaports transported on planes or ships owned or operated by Iran Air Cargo and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line that are suspected of containing banned items.
The resolution introduces financial monitoring of two banks with suspected links to proliferation activities, Bank Melli and Bank Saderat. It calls on all countries "to exercise vigilance" in entering into new trade commitments with Iran, including granting export credits, guarantees or insurance.
The resolution also orders countries to freeze the assets of 12 additional companies and 13 individuals with links to Iran's nuclear or ballistic missile programs — and require countries to "exercise vigilance" and report the travel or transit of those Iranians. It imposes a travel ban on five individuals linked to Iran's nuclear effort.
Most of the new individuals subject to sanctions are technical figures but one, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, is a prominent figure in the elite Revolutionary Guard military corps and is close to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is identified as a former deputy chief of the Armed Forces General Staff for Logistics and Industrial Research and as head of the State Anti-Smuggling Headquarters who has tried to get around previous U.N. sanctions.
Iran's parliamentary speaker, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, called Monday's sanctions resolution "illogical."
"It only discredits the U.N. Security Council," IRNA quoted him as saying. "This shows that how international bodies are in the hands of the big powers. Nations have to rely on their own. They reach nowhere if they rely on these bodies."