ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The Iranian deputy oil minister said Sunday he did not believe the United Nations would impose sanctions against Iran because such a move would increase oil prices.
"Any action like that will increase oil prices very high. And I believe that the U.N. or its bodies will not put any sanctions on oil or the oil industry," M. H. Nejad Hosseinian told reporters after talks in Islamabad with Pakistani officials over a proposed pipeline to transport Iranian gas to Pakistan and India.
The U.S. and its European allies have pushed the possibility of sanctions after a report from the U.N. nuclear monitor confirmed the Iranians had successfully produced enriched uranium and defied the Security Council's Friday deadline to stop the process.
Russia and China — two veto-wielding Security Council members — have opposed the possibility of such punitive actions.
Iran has not budged on the enrichment program. But it offered Saturday to allow U.N. inspectors to resume snap inspections of its nuclear facilities if the Security Council left the dispute to the U.N. nuclear monitor, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The White House rejected the offer, saying Iran must give up its nuclear ambitions and the debate must move to the Security Council.
Enriched uranium, depending on the degree of processing, can be used either to fuel civilian power plants or to make nuclear weapons.
While Iran insists it has no plans to make weapons and does not need or want them, the United States, Britain and France suspect the program is aimed at producing nuclear warheads.
In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran wanted to resolve the dispute through diplomacy but warned it would not "surrender under threats and pressures."
But Asefi reiterated Iran's offer off allowing intrusive inspections if the Security Council dropped the matter. He did not comment on Washington's rejection of the proposal.