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Security Council calls on Iran to halt uranium enrichment

Iran given 30 days to cooperate with IAEA on nuclear program

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Iranians rally in support of resuming operations at Istahan's uranium conversion plant in August last year.

WHAT'S NEXT

  • U.N. Security Council presidential statement calls on Iran to cease uranium enrichment -- a possible step toward developing nuclear weapons
  • Statement asks the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, to report on Iran's compliance after 30 days
  • Statement is not binding on Iran, and it could trigger more discussion but not international action
  • U.S. Ambassador John Bolton calls it a "first step" in Security Council action
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    UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council has unanimously called on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities within 30 days and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

    Iran's U.N. ambassador, Javad Zarif, said in response that Iran had an "inalienable right" to pursue nuclear energy and told reporters, "we are allergic to pressure and intimidation."

    The United States and other nations accuse Iran of working toward building nuclear weapons, while Iran says it is trying only to develop a civilian energy program.

    France, Britain and Germany have led more than two years of talks aimed at resolving the diplomatic standoff.

    Wednesday's vote came after the five permanent members of the council reached an agreement on the document, a presidential statement written by the British and French ambassadors.

    "It's a strong message we're sending to Iran -- that Iran has to comply with the resolution and the requests made by the board of governors of the IAEA," French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said.

    Talks between Iran and the EU-3 -- Britain, France and Germany -- stalled in January when Iran began small-scale uranium enrichment and ended its voluntary cooperation with the IAEA, which had been conducting surprise inspections.

    The United States and European Union demanded that Iran reconsider its decision, but Tehran accused the West of holding it to higher standards than it does the rest of the world.

    Zarif said he had requested the chance to address the council before the vote and was turned down.

    The IAEA raised questions about Iran's nuclear program in a report earlier this month, noting that the Iranians are testing 20 centrifuges capable of enriching uranium and producing enriched uranium in 10 others.

    Those numbers are well shy of the thousands that would be required to produce enough fuel for nuclear weapons. But the Security Council noted that inspectors were "unable to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran."

    U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Wednesday's statement -- issued a day ahead of a meeting of the council's veto-wielding permanent members and Germany in Berlin -- sends "a very clear message" that Iran should meet its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    "There's no ambiguity here," Bolton said. "We're waiting for the Iranians to do what they said they were going to do and violated, and the obligations that they undertook by being a member of the IAEA."

    Even Russia, which has provided Iran with nuclear technology, has expressed suspicion about Iran's nuclear programs and offered to produce nuclear fuel for Iranian reactors if Iran would suspend uranium enrichment.

    Bolton said he did not want to predict what the response of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad would be. But he expressed hope that the Iranian people would read the statement "so they can consider what dangers their government is putting them into."

    "Libya made the decision that they were safer, better off, giving up the pursuit of nuclear weapons than continuing to pursue them," he said. "I think the people of Iran understand that logic. Now we'll see whether their government understands it."

    But Zarif told reporters the IAEA's conclusions were "taken out of context" by the United States, which he said was "more interested in a crisis than a resolution."

    He said his government would study the Security Council statement. But he added, "Iran does not respond well to threats and to deadlines."

    "We are allergic to pressure and intimidation, and we do not respond well to it," Zarif said.

    He said Iran was prepared to cooperate with the IAEA, but "our rights are not for sale."

    "We are committed to our rights," he said. "At the same time we are committed to resolving this issue peacefully."

    In Moscow on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov repeated his stance that Moscow would not support the use of force to solve the Iranian nuclear problem.

    "As many of our European and Chinese colleagues have stated more than once, any ideas involving the use of force or pressure in resolving the issue are counterproductive and cannot be supported," Lavrov said, according to AP.

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