Facing UN Deadline, Iran Insists Nuclear Work Will Continue

J'lem sources: U.S. to seek UN arms embargo against transferring certain types of weapons to terrorists.

Iran will press ahead with its nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on the day of a UN deadline for Tehran to freeze its uranium enrichment activities.

"We ... will continue our work to reach our right (to nuclear technology) in the shortest possible time," the student news agency ISNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in the northern town of Siahkal.

"Obtaining this technology is very important for our country's development and honor. It is worth it to stop other activities for 10 years and focus only on the nuclear issue," Ahmadinejad said.

The UN Security Council, which in December banned transfers of technology and expertise to Tehran's nuclear program, may weigh broader sanctions if Iran, as expected, does not stop enriching uranium for atomic fuel by Wednesday.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, on Tuesday ruled out a suspension of uranium enrichment as a precondition for talks with the West, though six world powers said this could lead to major trade and diplomatic benefits for Tehran.

Larijani met International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Mohammed ElBaradei on Tuesday in Vienna to discuss ways of reviving talks with Western powers, but gave no sign that Iran was ready to compromise.

ElBaradei is expected to report to the Security Council that Tehran has defied a 60-day deadline to suspend enrichment.

But diplomats close to the IAEA said his report was now more likely to appear on Thursday.

Washington planning UN arms embargo against IranThe Bush administration is planning to propose a new resolution against Iran at the Security Council that will call for stepping up sanctions against the country in an effort to thwart its nuclear ambitions.

Political sources in Jerusalem said Tuesday that the U.S. will seek to include a partial embargo on arms sales in the resolution, with particular emphasis on the types of weapons that can be used by terrorists.

There is great expectation in the U.S. for the periodic report of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran's failure to abide by previous Security Council resolutions ordering Tehran to cease uranium enrichment. The report by the director general of the IAEA, Mohammed ElBaradei, is expected Wednesday or Thursday, and it will be followed by deliberations among the powers for the formulation of a new resolution.

The Jerusalem-based sources said that there is no chance for a total arms embargo on Iran, because of Russian opposition to it. Russia has sold air-defense missiles to Iran for the defense of its nuclear installations.

In recent weeks, Israel has carried out a diplomatic campaign against the transfer of weapons to terrorist organizations, in an effort to establish this concept as part of a new international norm. At the center of the campaign lie the transfer of arms from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon, that are viewed to be an expression of Tehran's policy of aggression.

"Iran's conduct in Lebanon is proof of the dangerous implications of a nuclear arsenal in its hands," political sources in Jerusalem said Tuesday.

The head of the planning directorate at the IDF, Maj. Gen. Idan Nehushtan, visited Washington last week and presented American officials with data on the transfer of arms from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah.

Nehushtan presented the American officials with evidence from the second Lebanon war and showed that all those involved in the arms transfers continue to operate and the routes for arms deliveries to Hezbollah remain unchanged since the war.

The embargo imposed against arms transfers to Hezbollah in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 that also brought a cease-fire in the war, is not being enforced. The head of research at Military Intelligence, Brigadier Yossi Beidetz, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that the Hezbollah is now stronger than it was prior to the war.

A senior intelligence official at the Pentagon told the Senate about a month ago, that Hezbollah has replenished the arsenal it possessed on the eve of the war in July, 2006.

Last week, a Foreign Ministry delegation headed by the deputy director for strategic affairs, Miriam Ziv, presented data on the arms transfers to Hezbollah to senior officials in the German Foreign Ministry. The Germans expressed some reservations about the validity of the data.

Israel's ambassador to the various UN institutions based in Geneva, Yitzhak Levanon, presented the Israeli approach during his address at the opening of the annual session of the UN disarmament commission. "The issue of arms transfers to terrorists is critical from a strategic point of view today, more than in the past, because of the quality, the quantity and the sophistication of the weapons."