Iran Will Continue Nuclear Program

Tehran will remain steady in pursuing its disputed nuclear program and hopes the U.N. Security Council won't approve further sanctions, Iran's foreign ministry said Sunday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini dismissed earlier reports that Iran had slowed down the pace of its uranium enrichment program.

"Nuclear activities of Iran continue in a defined and clear framework," Hosseini said at his weekly news conference.

Iran contends its nuclear program is purely peaceful, but the United States and its allies suspect enriched uranium could be used to make atomic bombs.

The U.N. Security Council already has imposed two sets of sanctions on Iran since December over the Islamic republic's refusal to halt enrichment. A third resolution is being pushed by the United States and its allies on the council, and Hosseini acknowledged Sunday that Iran was bracing for this.

"The third resolution would have its impact on Iran," the spokesman said.

Hosseini said Tehran would try to avoid the new sanctions by pursuing a policy that steers its nuclear program away from Security Council scrutiny.

This statement appeared to refer to an agreement reached last week between Iran and the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog for a new negotiations framework.

The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday that Tehran had agreed to answer questions on past nuclear experiments and would allow U.N. nuclear inspectors to visit facilities they had previously been barred from.

Any Iranian decision to cooperate with the IAEA could weaken the push for new U.N. sanctions -- even if Iran continues to defy the council's main demand that it freeze uranium enrichment.