Iran’s president warns West will suffer more than Iran if U.N. takes action on nuclear program |

Iran’s president warns West will suffer more than Iran if U.N. takes action on nuclear program

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s hard-line president on Thursday warned the West will suffer more than his country if it tries to stop Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, vowing to press ahead with the program as the confrontation moved into the U.N. Security Council.President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comments came as Tehran struck an increasingly threatening tone, with the top Iranian delegate to the U.N. atomic watchdog agency warning a day earlier that the United States will face “harm and pain” if the Security Council becomes involved.”They know that they are not capable of causing the least harm to Iranian people,” Ahmadinejad said during a visit to Iran’s western province of Lorestan, according to the ISNA news agency. “They will suffer more.”Ahmadinejad did not elaborate. Some diplomats saw the comments as a veiled threat to use oil as a weapon, though Iran’s oil minister ruled out any decrease in production. Iran also has leverage with extremist groups in the Middle East that could harm U.S. interests.The move to the U.N. Security Council takes the standoff to a new level, but how much it escalates depends heavily on the council’s first steps.The five permanent members with veto power – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – debated on Thursday how tough an action to take over Iran’s nuclear program, which Washington says aims to produce atomic weapons. Iran denies that claim, saying it intends only to generate electricity.The council could consider sanctions, but that seemed unlikely due to opposition by Russia and China. Instead, the first response will likely be a nonbinding presidential statement.Britain has proposed that the statement ask International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei to report back in two weeks on Iran’s compliance with IAEA resolutions.The toughest talk so far has come from Washington, where U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said the United States wants the statement to include some condemnation of Iran. He said the U.S. may eventually seek a so-called Chapter 7 resolution, which can be enforced with military action.Burns suggested Wednesday that Washington would also urge its allies to move beyond the Security Council and impose targeted sanctions against Iran if it doesn’t clear up the doubts surrounding its nuclear program.Russia, however, warned against dropping the diplomatic approach with Iran and – in a sign of its reluctance to condemn its ally, Tehran – said even the two-week deadline proposed by Britain was too short.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Iraq was a timely reminder of what can happen when the world turns its back on diplomacy.”We don’t want to be the ones to remind (everyone) who was right and who was not in Iraq, although the answer is obvious,” Lavrov said in an interview on Russian state television, remarks that highlighted a deep rift with Washington over how to handle the standoff.Former Israeli armed forces chief Moshe Yaalon said Thursday that Israel has the capacity to strike Iran and delay its nuclear program by several years, Israel TV reported.Yaalon told the Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank, a single assault would not be enough, and Israel was not limited to an air attack, a possible reference to submarine-fired missiles.Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang urged the international community to “maintain restraint and patience” with regard to the Iran nuclear issue.Iran has threatened in the past to end negotiations with Russia over a compromise proposal and restart full uranium enrichment – a key step in the nuclear process that the West is trying to persuade it to give up – if it is referred to the Security Council.Iranian officials did not repeat those threats Thursday, a day after the IAEA held an intense debate over a critical report that accused Iran of withholding information on its nuclear program, possessing plans linked to nuclear weapons and refusing to freeze uranium enrichment.Soon after the meeting ended, ElBaradei said he would send the report to the Security Council within 24 hours.”The people of Iran will not accept coercion and unjust decisions by international organizations,” Ahmadinejad said, according to state television. “Enemies cannot force the Iranian people to relinquish their rights.””The era of bullying and brutality is over,” he added.Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters, also was defiant, telling a group of clerics that Iran would not drop its nuclear ambitions, state television reported.”Authorities are obliged to continue toward achieving advanced technology, including nuclear energy. The people and the government will resist any force or conspiracy,” he said.He charged that Washington was looking for an excuse to continue what he called a psychological war against his country.”This time they have used nuclear energy as an excuse. If Iran quits now, the case will not be over. The Americans will find another excuse,” he said.—Associated Press writers George Jahn in Vienna, Austria, and Nick Wadhams at the United Nations contributed to this report.Vail, Colorado

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